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AT&T Caps Netflix Streaming Costs At $68K/Yr 433

Posted by timothy
from the for-a-hamburger-today dept.
theodp writes "What would you say if you went to join a gym and were told that it could cost you anywhere from $360 a year to $68,000 a year for the exact same usage? Don't be ridiculous, right? Well, that's really not so different from what the potential costs of streaming video on an AT&T smartphone are. According to AT&T's Data Usage Calculator, 1,440 minutes worth of streaming video consumes 2.81GB, which — if you manage to keep Netflix fired up all day and night — would result in a $360 annual bill under the grandfathered $30-monthly-unlimited-data plan, or $68,376 under the new $20-monthly-300MB plan. Still, that didn't stop a spokesman from characterizing the new AT&T data plans as 'a great value' for customers."
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AT&T Caps Netflix Streaming Costs At $68K/Yr

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  • So when did... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neonKow (1239288) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:55AM (#38804159) Journal

    ...it become our God-given right to stream Netflix 24-7? And to get outraged that there is a bulk discount? AT&T has many, many issues already, so do you really need to contrive a completely unrealistic one to make a point?

    • Re:So when did... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:58AM (#38804199)

      The point is that some customers get a 99.48% discount for buying in bulk. How many other places offer that extreme of a discount? Should I get two McDoubles for a penny if I go to McDonalds every day?

      • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rtaylor (70602) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:10AM (#38804339) Homepage

        It's large.

        My gym charges about $650 per year or $20 for a day. Some have a $10 for an hour fee.

        Are the $20/day people supposed to be outraged at paying $7300 for something I'm paying $650 for, or should they be happy they saved money for something they didn't really want.

        The $10/hour guy would pay $87,600 if they used it all day every day; but why would someone doing that be paying by the hour?

        • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:30AM (#38804589) Homepage Journal

          Maybe a better question is "how much does AT&T pay for that bandwidth for which they charge $20/250MB?

          The issue might not be who gets the discount so much as "why is AT&T price-gouging for something for which there is so little choice?"

          When you've only got a couple of choices, and AT&T actively works to keep the number choices limited, they have a privileged position. When a company is granted such privilege, they should be held to some responsibility, one of which is not to price-gouge.

          "Price-gouging" is defined as "a pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair". Who wants to argue that $20/250MB is "reasonable"?

          • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:11AM (#38805273)

            Moreover, these Internets make heavy use of public resources. In the case of wireless, it is a public spectrum they are leasing. In the case of wired, they make use of the public right of way. The public has every right to see that its resources are used in a manner that maximize the public benefit, and corporations that cannot meet that challenge should not be allowed to use said resources.

          • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:32AM (#38805593)

            No, that's not a good question, unless everyone is asking it. Text messaging rides on the backs of empty space in the network ping, costing nothing to the provider. But rates have gone up from 10 cents to now 40 cents.

            People will pay whatever they value the service to be.

            I have fought this for as long as I could - I didn't buy a cell phone, I didn't have cable or satellite TV, I didn't pay money for anything I thought was overpriced. But everyone around me did. $500/mo apartment with $140 tv + internet package, and complaining about not having money.

            I told people where they were spending ridiculous piles of cash, they didn't care, they wanted the service. I tried to educate them, honestly I did.

            And your argument that choice is limited doesn't really hold up - Sprint has been offering "truly unlimited" plans. This is basic capitalism. No one cares what it costs to make something, only what they are willing to pay for it. And very few people like me are truly outraged anough to actually not purchase something, they grumble and fork over the cash.

          • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Informative)

            by wumingzi (67100) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @12:01PM (#38806117) Homepage Journal

            Will I argue that it's reasonable? Errrm. Maybe. Before I start, two things:

            Disclaimer 1: I work in the backbone at T. My opinions are my own. Randall Stephenson gets paid more in a day than I'll make in my entire career to voice Ma Bell's opinions.

            Disclaimer 2: It's fairly hard to calculate what bandwidth costs. The capital expenditure of the large telcos to build their networks runs into tens of billions of dollars. The operational expenditure to keep it running once the costs are sunk is considerably less. We have people who think about this stuff. They don't talk to me.

            From the telco point of view, there are 3 segments to your Internet connection.

            There's the backhaul between the data centers and the Internet. I think most Slashdotters are fairly familiar with the economics there. That bandwidth is cheap as dirt.

            There is the cost of running a dedicated leased line to every fool tower in the US. Not as cheap as dark fiber, but still reasonably cheap.

            Then there is spectrum over the air. That's a very limited commodity. There is a lot of chatter as to whether T (or other telcos) are making the best use of the spectrum they have, but the fact is, we have a certain quantity of it. Once it's gone, there is no more. Neither T, nor VZ nor Sprint nor you or your mom can write a check to make more spectrum appear. It's the long-term opinion of T's upper management that users will exhaust the spectrum capacity we have.

            Another issue was that under unlimited data plans, a very small (i.e. 2% or less) of the customer base were using an inordinate (i.e. 50-60%) of the total bandwidth. Capping customers makes them mad and post angry messages on Slashdot. Thus, let marker forces take over. :-)

            • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by sjames (1099) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @02:04PM (#38808069) Homepage

              The SPECTRUM is limited, and there is a hard limit on bandwidth somewhere in there, but we're nowhere near it. Double the number of cells and you very nearly double the bandwidth being carried in the same slice of spectrum.

              The people with the unlimited data plans you speak of using 50% of the bandwidth were the people who actually used their phones the way the commercials all show. If they can't actually support their entire user base enjoying movies and sports telecasts on their phones wherever they are, perhaps they shouldn't advertise it.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          I think part of the complaint is that they no longer have the equivalent of a "$20/day" option, you only get it if you were grandfathered in.

          That being said, there are other providers out there.

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          One thing you are forgetting here:

          In your example, the gym still offers the $650/year plan. In AT&T's case, only those who have it already can keep it - it has been this way for 1-2 years now.

          In addition, AT&T is doing everything they can to force people off of the unlimited plan:
          1) Capping those supposedly in the "top 5%" of data users - however, some people have gotten capping nastygrams when their monthly usage was BELOW the 2GB cap of the highest non-tethering plans!
          2) Forcing users off of th

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          My gym charges about $650 per year or $20 for a day. Some have a $10 for an hour fee.

          I think if you read the articles listed a little more closely, this is more like they sold you the gym membership for $650 and said you kept that rate forever ... and then for all new people, it's a $10/hour fee, with even higher fees if you come too often.

          This is not a case in which they could still opt for the $650/year price ... that option is no longer available to new members, they're stuck at the more expensive price

          • by puto (533470)
            They are offering 3 gigs for 30 dollars a month.
          • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by neonKow (1239288) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:17AM (#38805349) Journal

            They might not have an unlimited plan anymore, but they're offering more than a single $10/hour plan. There are 3 GB and 5 GB plans in addition to the 300 MB plan, which are perfectly reasonable choices if you plan on watching a ton of Netflix.

            No one streaming Netflix 24/7 is going to be on the 300 MB plan, so the fact that it would cost $68K to do so on that plan is as stupid as claiming 100,000 instances of a song pirated is $300K in damages.

        • Indeed. Once your customer pays $650, it would be in the interest of the gym to switch someone over to the yearly plan.

          Sure, it limits the immediate short-term source of revenue, but the good-will it generates may be sufficient to lure in more people (long-term). Since it's unlikely that all but the wealthiest / most insane individuals would continue to patronize a gym that charged them such a large amount over the short-term, in much the same way that cellphone companies lose customers may hitting them wit

        • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:34AM (#38805627) Homepage

          The key difference between your gym and AT&T, is choice.

          If you know you're going to hit the gym 5 days a week, you choose the plan that offers the best value, the yearly plan. Every gym user has an affordable option based on their needs.

          With AT&T, if you know you're a heavy user, the only thing you can do is brace for impact. Even the most "generous" plan is very tight - 5gb may seem huge to someone who reads the occasional email or googles trivia at the bar, but for a guy like me who often works over 3G on a laptop, I blow through 2-3 gb per day. Where is the 100gb for $70 plan ?

          Or, if we really want to point out the illogical price discrimination: why does unlimited data only cost $10 on a "standard phone" ? Are the bits any different from bits sent to a smartphone ? Are the zeroes and ones made from cheaper electrons ? Why should the device have any impact on a platform-agnostic network and its costs ?

          Telcos' business models are so full of holes, they need armies of full-time lawyers and spin doctors to keep the ship from sinking.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        It's not unheard of for there to be things like "founder's benefits" or "rent control" that grandfathers people into absurdly good rates.

        The real question here is whether AT&T needs that money to expand their POS network or they're just being greedy. I'd wager it is some of both, but having said that, it's clear that AT&T doesn't have the network chops to offer unlimited utilization without some build out.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Call me nuts, but I have a friend, who lives in a much less densely populated country than the US, but has good cell coverage anyway, and pays $4/month. And no, it isn't a 3rd world country. If it were I could explain the difference, but as it is, I can't help but think that rampant greed is a huge factor in pretty much all cell companies here in the US.

          The best I can do is $35/month for unlimited text/data/calls, and coverage is limited to my state, and only half-assed at best, there..

          • by jeffmeden (135043)

            Call me nuts, but I have a friend, who lives in a much less densely populated country than the US, but has good cell coverage anyway, and pays $4/month. And no, it isn't a 3rd world country. If it were I could explain the difference, but as it is, I can't help but think that rampant greed is a huge factor in pretty much all cell companies here in the US.

            The best I can do is $35/month for unlimited text/data/calls, and coverage is limited to my state, and only half-assed at best, there..

            That's because you aren't looking hard enough. Switch to a MVNO who resells a nationwide network (there are several for Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon) and you can find unlimited talk/text for around $40 a month, and it will work anywhere in the US. Higher data plans usually start in the $55/mo range. I call bullshit that your "friend" has any significant amount of talk time or data for his $4 USD/mo. Most other countries have very cheap texting and higher charges for minutes and data to offset it, and co

      • i think you get a similar discount buying in bulk from foxconn.
    • by jythie (914043)
      Is this a bulk discount, or a plan that is only available to people who already had it? From the OP it sounded like it was a grandfathered 'these people pay $360, everyone else pays XYZ, and there is no way for new people to get the lower rate' setup.
    • Re:So when did... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:56AM (#38805009) Homepage Journal

      Not a God-given right, a CONTRACT-given right. I'm not paying by the bit for computer internet access, why should I pay it for internet access on my phone? And BTW, I have AT&T for home internet, the phone is Boost Mobile, unlimited everything for half the price of AT&T's cheapest phone data plan, even if you don't hit AT&T's caps.

      And I could watch TV 24/7 (well, ok, 16/7, stations didn't run late at night back before the stone age) for FREE fifty years ago. I'm still watching for free. Cable? Why? A hundred channels of crap I don't want to watch, most of which are on the internet hosted by their networks (I have kubuntu TV, my computer uses the TV as a monitor).

      Why do you expect me to pay for what was once free, and especially for what's free right now? No wonder everybody's broke, they're throwing their money away on bottled water, TV, radio, exercize, data, music... shit that they can get for free. What a bunch of maroons, as Bugsy would say! Pay five dollars for a goddamned cup of coffee when I can buy a two pound can of Maxwell House or Folgers for ten, and have a whole pot of coffee every day for a month? How fucking stupid would I have to be??? Kids, if you have money to waste, give your charity to the poor, not the rich bastards that own Starbucks and Comcast.

      • by billcopc (196330)

        This.

        Don't get me wrong, I quite enjoy a few pints at the pub, despite the premium price, but that's in part because my government imposes such usurious levies and taxes on alcohol that even "cheap swill" at the liquor store costs nearly as much as a full-service bar, for a bottled product that's been oxidizing on the shelf for a month. And, well, I haven't quite mastered the art of homebrewing yet...

        I really do believe the only reason telcos are so dominant is because people don't bother spending any time

    • 1,440 minutes is only 11 movies! It's not streaming 24/7 .. it's just 3 movies a week.

    • Obviously, this is AT&T's attempt to stop anyone from using Netflix from their mobile device, when not using wifi.

      We've seen articles on /. estimating that Netflix streaming traffic constitutes a big chunk of all internet traffic. AT&T's mobile network is already shoddy compared to all competitors - the last thing they need is people streaming movies.

      It's a transparent attempt to more or less outlaw this one specific app.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    per article, the changes are:
    $15 for 200MB => $20 for 300MB
    $25 for 2GB => $30 for 3GB

    Nice alarmist title.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      It's still way overpriced. It should be $1 for 1GB. We just need competition and the market will correct itself.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:13AM (#38804379)

        It's still way overpriced. It should be $1 for 1GB. We just need competition and the market will correct itself.

        Well, I think that your plan is overpriced. It should be $0.01 for 1GB.

        See how pointless it is when you make up numbers just to make yourself happy?

      • by what2123 (1116571) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:14AM (#38804399)
        Ha, yeah right. I know exactly what you are thinking and I do agree. However the problem is that when a new competitor is able to get into the market, they are bought out by the larger businesses. Alltel was the first to really start offering decent services and a reasonable way before the 4-goons ever did/have. When they sold-out to Verizon the services were grandfathered in but after that the rates and services ceased to exist even for those grandfathered in.
      • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:36AM (#38804675)

        It's also cellular data that they're talking about. Anybody who would watch Netflix 24/7 in high definition over a cellular connection needs to have their head examined. (you did notice that the link to the "data usage calculator" was for the wireless calculator, right?)

        Over a wired connection, the rate is significantly more reasonable. But it wouldn't make as interesting a sensationalist headline.

        • by zero0ne (1309517)

          4G in my area is faster than DSL.

          Why not just put all the wired bandwidth going to their DSL infrastructure in my area to the closest towers, and then give every one a 4G hotspot?
          You can talk about spectrum space this and that, but DSL is just as limited in regards to physical infrastructure. (IE must be X miles from a DSLAM to get speed Y).

          Why not make the ultimate set-top box? You only have to plug it into the wall and your TV. The unit is completely wireless (4g or whatever newer tech), and also acts

    • by emj (15659)

      The max cost need to be in there, and having to pay $70000 just because you forgot to turn off your phone is not a good thing. This is important because people do not see this problem, and tend to laugh at "losers" affected by it. Pressure should be on the Telcos to have fair pricing, not on the customers.

      So no it's not alarmist, it's trying to expose telcos for what they are, and hopefully change them.

      • by brainzach (2032950) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:09AM (#38804333)

        You don't calculate your water bill based on if you leave all the faucets in your house on for 24/7.

        I don't see the big deal as long as AT&T notifies the customer of overages when they occur.

        • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:19AM (#38804457)

          They should prompt you for buying a new data allowance when your expires. And, ideally, they should charge you for Mb, not simply shove another 300Mb/1Gb down your throat. Sometimes you run into your cap on the last few days of the month and would rather simply wait for the refresh instead of paying 100% more for 10% more data.

          • Man, I wish I had mod points. An option to require an agree button to purchase more data would be ideal. I went over my limit once on my iPad, and got a notification that I was reaching my limit - 10 hours after I'd gone over it. It's not the end of the world, and $15 isn't going to kill me, but it would have been nice to have to manually authorize the overage.

      • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:15AM (#38804403) Homepage Journal

        The max cost need to be in there, and having to pay $70000 just because you forgot to turn off your phone is not a good thing. This is important because people do not see this problem, and tend to laugh at "losers" affected by it. Pressure should be on the Telcos to have fair pricing, not on the customers.

        So no it's not alarmist, it's trying to expose telcos for what they are, and hopefully change them.

        If you "forget" about your phone the battery will die after about 45 minutes of this kind of usage, so, not to worry! And for what it's worth this has been going on ever since the invention of long distance; you have always been able to dig a real deep hole for yourself. Say you call your aunt in Armenia and you both forget to put the phone totally back on the hook; one month later you will have an $86,000 phone bill. Think that's changed any? You can opt to purchase more affordable plans, which is no different than in this scenario, but if you choose to be completely dumb about it yes you can find yourself owing a LOT of money. That's the price of being a grownup.

    • T-Mobile = $30 for 5 GB. Useless outside metro areas though.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:56AM (#38804169)

    Utilities and the like seem to like to do crazy things with billing based on usage. My gas/electric company reads the meter every other month and estimates for the months they don't read based on past usage. I've had a number of months in the past year estimated gas use so high that they mark it as 0 use the next month when they read the meter (which means I'm still paying for gas I don't use because I really doubt it comes to exactly even every time). However, even on months where they bill me for 0 gas use, I still get a nice plump "delivery charge". Isn't this like FedEx sending you a bill because they could have delivered a package even though they didn't?

    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:07AM (#38804301) Homepage Journal

      I would get a hold of your local public utilities commission if this is really happening; that's certainly not the way that estimated usage billing should work and you are right that it's bullshit that they basically charge you for 2 months of usage up front and then ride out the cash. Sounds like they either have a super shitty estimation process or they are deliberately trying to pad their books to keep the cash flowing.

      • by jythie (914043)
        A lot of utilities do it this way. I have had both water and power companies bill like this, including going for months paying zero because they over estimated during the previous cycle. Annoying, but not uncommon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by argStyopa (232550)

      Are you suggesting that state-run monopolies might not be competitive or customer-oriented?

      That's unpossible.

    • by DRJlaw (946416)

      I've had a number of months in the past year estimated gas use so high that they mark it as 0 use the next month when they read the meter (which means I'm still paying for gas I don't use because I really doubt it comes to exactly even every time). However, even on months where they bill me for 0 gas use, I still get a nice plump "delivery charge". Isn't this like FedEx sending you a bill because they could have delivered a package even though they didn't?

      So have I.

      A. If your gas use varies a lot month to

  • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:56AM (#38804173) Homepage
    As long as they don't prioritise one data stream over the other, I'm OK with the total download caps. When they start offering Unlimited Nexflix addon, then you should start worrying.
    • This exact shit is already happening. Airlines offering free Facebook and Twitter (other content costs money), ISPs offering cap exemptions for Windows Update...

      • by tixxit (1107127)
        The Windows update one does make a lot of sense, as it directly benefits the ISP to have their customers' computers up-to-date with the latest security patches. Moreover, I don't see much of a win for MS, since I highly doubt that even 1 person would choose Windows over OS X or Linux because their monthly windows update is exempt. "Man, I love me some Linux, but the thought of that exempt 100mb download each month is too hard to resist!"
  • Bullshit Strawman (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:57AM (#38804197)

    Yes, because it's entirely reasonable that someone would sign up for the lowest possible data plan, and then use as much bandwidth as possible for every second of every day. Obviously, that plan is designed for people who intend to use streaming very little, if at all, and it is a very good value for those people. No, not as good a value as the old $30 unlimited, but that was obviously not sustainable as phone bandwidth usage increased massively. Remember when the $30 unlimited plan was created, Netflix for the phone didn't exist, and most phones struggled to stream very low res video.

    • I agree for the most part, except for that "obviously not sustainable" part.
      The phone companies complain loudly, but I don't trust them to be forthcoming about their business. Increasing network capacity is possible, but probably expensive. They don't want to if they don't have to.
      The commercials on TV advertise the kind of usage that would lead to an absurdly large bill. They actively sell it to customers. Then, they turn around and demonize the users who actually use the phones as advertised.
      Have you

    • Still I think that for safety most people would like their yearly costs capped at a sensible number, say, somewhere around the cost of a flat screen TV, rather than a Lotus Exige S.

    • by tixxit (1107127)
      Yes. What people are really mad about was that there was a period of 2-3 years where data was abundant and demand was low, so data plans were grossly underpriced. Now that everyone and their grandmother have smartphones, demand is high, networks are congested, and carriers are using price discrimination as a load balancer (as well as their primary purpose to make money of course).
  • by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:59AM (#38804215)
    This can generate a huge bill to any cloud-based "app" (I hate this buzzword) too. On this days of "web 2.0", any reasonable plan can not limit usage
  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:01AM (#38804227)

    3GB data for $30 a month

    article is FUD

    • by Jawnn (445279)
      No. It is inaccurate, but the point is still valid - There is a vast gulf between "unlimited" and 3 GB.
  • Wow, I can't believe that AT&T (of all companies,) would offer customers a way to pay either a little bit for something, or a way to pay a shit ton for the same thing! Just wait until [insert some useless governing body here] gets a load of this! They will be outraged! /sarcasm

    And yes I get that the $30/unlimited is no longer a choice when signing a contract, but you *can* choose the $30/3GB plan where the overage is only $10/1GB resulting in approximately $820 in overage fees, instead of $68,000.

  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:03AM (#38804263)

    AT&T offers larger chunks of data for less per megabyte. So if you're expecting to stream 3GB, buy 3GB.

    You wouldn't be a complete moron and buy the smallest data plan and then let it up-charge you over and over again.

    • by s_p_oneil (795792)

      "You wouldn't be a complete moron and buy the smallest data plan and then let it up-charge you over and over again."

      Apparently if you were the author of this article, you would be.

  • A whole month of streaming is 96.3GB.

    • The data usage link points to a screenshot of MONTHLY usage while the "article" speaks about daily usage. Indeed.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      That's how they got *to* the total; they didn't show their math in any sane way but the argument was if you did 24h * 30d of 2.8gb/hr you would end up with that much in overage. Don't worry, it's stupid bullshit either way.

  • us cellular has unlimited data plans and so does sprint. why does AT&T need to gang rape it's customers?

    • There's no such thing as unlimited. Sprint's "unlimited" plan: friend's iphone 4s on sprint has bandwidth of about 200kbps.

  • Movie industry execs and telco execs are getting some really FUNKY shit from their drug dealers if they think people have forgotten common skills like...math.

  • This is like complaining that it costs more to park near your local supermarket, when all they've done is add some extra handicap places. The fine you pay for parking in a handicapped spot isn't the cost of parking there, it's the cost of breaking the rules. Similarly, you're not supposed to sign up for this $20/month plan and then stream Netflix all day. If you want Netflix, get a plan with a bigger limit. It's not that hard.

  • I am sick of "plans". What the hell is a cell phone "plan"? There is no plan, this is all retarded. I want a cell wireless data company to just say: "You give us $20 and we give you 2GB on our network". It's as simple as that, simply cuts off after the 2GB is over because that's what you paid for, no super high fees, no bullshit. Just GB for $$. That's it. Not complicated.

    No, instead of simply selling bandwidth they choose to make all kinds of complicated illogical nonsensical absurd "plans" which mean n

    • by jdcope (932508)
      They make money on the overage fees. Thats why there is such a gap in data between the plans. I would also like to be able to have the option of a smart-phone plan that is Wi-Fi only. Why do I have to pay for a data plan at all? Wi-Fi is practically everywhere.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:20AM (#38804481)
    Umm well Duh.

    As well this Gym Analogy isn't apt. Because it is more like a case you can have an unlimited Gym Membership for a month for $30 or you can choose to pay by the hour (Say $1.00 an hour) while you are there.
    So if you are the guy who goes to the gym for 2 hours a day every day the Unlimited $30 a month is a better value. Because the other plan will have you paying around $60.00 a month.
    If you are the average Joe who goes to the gym say 3 times a week for 1 hour. The hourly plan is cheaper because he will be paying $15.00 a month.

    For most of the people the hourly rate will be a better value because if they do go to the gym every day it will normally be for 1 hour and they will normally have reasons to miss a day. However for the the guy who is addicted to exercise or is really trying to get buffed, that pay per usage will be more expensive.

    Now the same will AT&T Plan. For most people we are getting a better rate, then before, however we don't like being metered, even if it is cheaper. We much rather pay more and have a consistent bill then a fluctuation bill even if the average is cheaper.
  • by Targon (17348) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:20AM (#38804485)

    If you were planning to stream video content, why would ANYONE go with the 300MB plan, instead of the 3GB plan? If you plan to use data, then you go with the plan that gives you the appropriate amount of data for what you want. AT&T DOES offer pay as you go data for those who do not have a smartphone, and it costs more per megabyte than if you go with a data plan.

    Smartphones tend to have "phone home" features to check for updates and such, and if you don't have a data plan, customers who buy a smartphone without planning to use any data services would freak out about "what is this data usage fee on my bill". That is why all carriers REQUIRE a data plan for those who buy a smartphone. People have to accept that if they plan to use data, they should NOT go with a low-end data plan, and they should go to the 2GB or above plan.

    2.81GB of data...fits in the new 3GB plan offered by AT&T. So, what's the problem?

    • by compro01 (777531)

      2.81GB of data...fits in the new 3GB plan offered by AT&T. So, what's the problem?

      Yeah, it would, if it wasn't 2.81GB PER DAY.

      1440 minutes== 24 hours

    • Smartphones tend to have "phone home" features to check for updates and such, and if you don't have a data plan, customers who buy a smartphone without planning to use any data services would freak out about "what is this data usage fee on my bill". That is why all carriers REQUIRE a data plan for those who buy a smartphone.

      No, carriers got greedy and wanted money from ALL smartphone users, including ones who opted for Wi-Fi only and never planned to use cellular data. It used to be that one could opt for a complete block of cellular data connections on smartphones if they didn't want to pay for a data plan.

  • With the average size of a web page getting close to 1Mb in size. So 20 page views a day and you're in danger of exceeding your subscriber data cap and heading into charged territory.
  • It's not clear, either in TFA or on the AT&T site that you get to keep your old plan. One of the reasons for staying with AT&T (for me) is that they have the cheapest data plan at $15. If there were a $10/100MB plan, I'd probably get that as I average about 50-60MB per month. I rarely - if ever - stream media, and use my plan for looking up data and getting email/text/google voice when I'm out. I'll be pissed, and looking at switching both my phones to Verizon, if they force me into a higher cost

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:29AM (#38804573) Homepage

    What would you say if you went to join a gym and were told that it could cost you anywhere from $360 a year to $68,000 a year for the exact same usage? Don't be ridiculous, right?

    While it may be ridiculous that they still allow anyone to use the $360 "all you can download" plan, they have grandfathered those people in. I don't even really find it ridiculous. I think it is their obligation to complete each contract under its original terms.

    Oh, or are you saying you want your new contract to be "all you can download for $360"? Are you thick? Do you have an "all you can burn" plan set up with your local gas station?

    More accurate pricing, even when does not benefit you individually in the short run, is a good thing for everyone in the long run. We want AT&T to get paid for high usage, so they are financially incentivized to build out the network. Under the old way of billing, high usage was being subsidized by low-usage customers, and AT&T was incentivized to inhibit high usage by such extreme measures as throttling, which sucks. You are being short-sighted, quit whining.

  • If you are going to use lots of data then an unlimited plan is better than a metered plan. Who would have thunk?

    It's almost like if you plan on spending 24 hours a day at the gym a monthly membership would be cheaper than day passes.

  • 1,440 minutes worth of streaming video consumes 2.81GB

    at what bitrate?

    I'd have to say that's BS for HD video streaming.

  • A few notes here from a long-time AT&T user who used to have the bottom-of-the-barrel plan:

    - AT&T sends you a notification when you've used more than 50% of your bandwidth for the month. I used to get these all the time, usually about two days before the month was over, since they apparently just do it via high-water mark, and aren't building any kind of prediction of "will they go over".

    - In that notification, it lets you know that you'll get another notification when you hit 90%, which they d

  • I see this more as a way for AT&T to ease the pressure off of their network than to make 68,000 a year off of some clueless schmucks. I am lucky to be in the unlimited 30/month club, but if I wasn't, the 3gb 30/month option would work and I would rarely see any difference to my bill. Most of my usage is over wifi as it is (YMMV, of course), so I have rarely gone above that.

    Certainly, if you do an insane amount of data transfer via 3G you will see a higher cost and AT&T will profit from that. But b
  • What kind of an idiot streams that much netflix (or any other video, for that matter) from the AT&T wireless account? You do realize that iPhones and Android phones come with Wi-Fi, right? With the easy availability of free public wi-fi in most communities, there really isn't any reason to stream via the expensive data plans. The only thing I really use my data plan for is for looking up the occasional website, random facebook updates, and maybe sending a photo to someone. I've never even come close to

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