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

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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  • 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?

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:08AM (#38804319)

    It's just the usual 'I used to get everything for FREE' rant that ignores the fact that the company has costs and unlimited plans were doomed from the start. They are so massively unfair to 90% of the users that I'm surprised there aren't more people clamoring for cheaper, metered plans.

    I say this while I'm in the top 5%, if not the top 1%. When I was in highschool, back in the dialup days, I was "#1 abuser" at my local ISP. Yes, they told me that directly. I was part of the reason they ended their 'unlimited' dialup plan. (They nearly went out of business soon after and ended up selling out to an ISP that still had an unlimited plan.)

    The problem is that the word 'unlimited' is very attractive to us, even if we're paying more than we should. At the moment, I have unlimited internet bandwidth, cell minutes, cell texts, cell bandwidth and probably other things I've forgotten. With my usage, it probably makes sense. What doesn't make sense is that the entire rest of my family (not living near me) has most of the same unlimited things, and they'd probably be better off with metered service. But they've got this 'don't want to pay overages' mentality that makes them keep paying too much. Notice that I said, "probably makes sense" for me. I haven't done the math! I could very well save some money if I examined it, but I feel a resistance to even doing that.

    tl;dr - It's a psychological thing that overrides logic.

  • 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.

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

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:54AM (#38804973) Homepage

    Which is fine actually so long as those tax dollars were paid off with profits earned (and then some). But the idea that just because AT&T got bootstrapped through US tax payer funding, they should be forever beholden to the tax payer is just ludicrous! And you wonder why conservatives such as myself don't like the idea of government intervention. A truly sticky situation that if ever, rarely goes away.

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

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> 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.

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

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

    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.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.