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Mixed Reception To AT&T's New Data Pricing Scheme

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the infinite-monkeys-streaming-infinite-shakespeare dept.

Wireless Networking 514

Several readers have sent in followups to Wednesday's news that AT&T was eliminating its unlimited data plan. Glenn Derene at Popular Mechanics defends the new plan, writing, "Imagine, for a moment, if we bought electricity the way we buy data in this country. Every month, you would pay a fixed amount of money (say, $120), and then you would use as much electricity as you wanted, with an incentive to use as much as you could. That brings price stability to the end user, but it's a horrible way to manage electricity load." Others point out that this will likely engender more scrutiny from regulatory agencies and watchdog groups. A Computerworld article says that one way or the other, AT&T's decision is a huge deal for the mobile computing industry, influencing not only how other carriers look at data rates, but how content providers and advertisers will need to start thinking about a data budget if they want consumers to keep visiting their sites. AT&T, responding to criticism, has decided to allow iPad buyers to use the old, unlimited plan as long as they order before June 7, and Gizmodo has raised the question of "rollover bytes."

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Last byte? (3, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464562)

No AT&T?
No Apple iWhatever?


Re:Last byte? (4, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464702)

But how long until the other players decide that AT&T shouldn't be the only ones with their customers over a barrel? We saw it with the increase in text messaging rates. When one company screws their customers in the name of profit, the others will soon follow suit.

it had to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464574)

sooner or later, and we all know it..

Re:it had to happen (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465106)

of course. greed trumps rational thought.

however, the question of will it stick? the answer is no.

Data Budgets (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464582)

My heart goes out to the poor developers, who are already fighting with their bosses over why they shouldn't be using Flash on their .mobi sites.

Re:Data Budgets (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464606)

Wait, how is this a problem? Bosses who insist the .mobi should run Flash won't have many ATT customers in the first place... I don't see the problem here.

Re:Data Budgets (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464698)

I don't see the problem here.

Because it won't be long before other carriers follow AT&T's lead.

Re:Data Budgets (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465000)

I think the GP means that developers who already have to struggle to keep flash *off* the .mobi site are now going to have to struggle to minimize the bandwidth consumption of their main site.

Of course, that flash content on the main site won't load on iPad anyway, so the point is a bit moot.

I don't want this (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464592)

I want a way to grade my traffic and clearly stated policies for bandwidth usage that don't directly impose caps. People who use too much bandwidth should be charged by having their packets put last in the queue. If they are kind enough to label a bunch of their traffic as 'bulk' then that traffic can be put last in the queue immediately and not counted against their high-priority bandwidth usage.

Charging people by bit is the wrong model. The infrastructure is there and costs nearly the same if tons of data is going over it or no data is going over it. Charging by byte taxes and charges people for exchanging information, and I think the whole economy would suffer for it.

Re:I don't want this (2, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464638)

The infrastructure is there and costs nearly the same if tons of data is going over it or no data is going over it.

But if people keep using more and more bandwidth, someone will have to pay for more and more infrastructure to support the ever growing usage. If we charge for bandwidth used, people will have an incentive to use less, and the cost will be reduced for all but the heaviest users.

Re:I don't want this (3, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464678)

Part of the problem is the new ubiquity of advertising in apps. Why should we subsidize ads directed at us? It wasn't a big deal with an unlimited plan but now every byte is precious. I still have my unlimited T-Mobile plan, but it's only a matter of time before they fall into line with the other major players just like with the increase in text messaging rates. The FCC needs to step in and investigate this collusion.

Re:I don't want this (1, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464752)

Apps and Browsing right? I mean, if the page I'm looking for is only a few K when I browse at home, but on my phone without an adblocker its going to be over a few megs, that hardly seems fair to charge me by the amount of data, right?

Re:I don't want this (1, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464816)

I was thinking of the ads being integrated into the apps, but you do make a compelling point about ads on websites as well. I wonder what the odds are of Apple allowing an adblocker in their app store. On my Android device I can simply add lines to my hosts file for offending domains.

Re:I don't want this (3, Insightful)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465058)

Not sure what you are so indignant about. The ads are what pays for the content in the first place, so not getting them isn't really "fair" so much as it is what you want.

Re:I don't want this (3, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464984)


There are already posts about loading pages for a few k of content, which total up to megabytes - all because the page is burdened with advertising. Even though I have the slowest, crappiest, highest latency DSL in the world, no page should EVER take a minute to load. I upgraded from dialup just as soon as DSL became available in my area, and the advertisers sucked up every bit of bandwidth that I'm paying for!! Me, I'm PAYING for advertising! Why? I don't want to see ANY of it!

AdBlock Plus, and noscript are essential to browsing the web on dialup and any low-bandwidth plan, as well as for anyone living an hour or two from the big cities. That is just so WRONG, on so many levels.

Re:I don't want this (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464696)

But if people keep using more and more bandwidth, someone will have to pay for more and more infrastructure to support the ever growing usage.

People keep saying this like its a bad thing. What, I don't want my phone companies or ISP to upgrade their hardware? By encouraging people to use less bandwidth, you stifle growth. By having network speed as something to compare when considering a phone provider, it keeps them trying to beat each other at phone speeds.

Re:I don't want this (2, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464786)

I don't see how changing for bandwidth would stifle growth. Airlines make passengers pay for each seat on an airplane, no matter how full it is, even though the plane's going to fly the route anyway. The airline industry has grown quite a bit in the past several decades despite this. I don't see why charging for bandwidth use would affect competition over network speed.

Re:I don't want this (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464940)

I don't see why charging for bandwidth use would affect competition over network speed.

People will browse less if they don't have unlimitted plans. At least thats the accepted theory anyways.

Re:I don't want this (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465070)

Yes, and if their business model makes any sense growing usage should bring the company more revenue which they can then use to finance network improvements. Anything else some CEO has to say about the matter is merely a diversionary tactic to draw the public away from the fact that they are raking in cash hand over fist and not facing any real reasons or pressure to improve their network. Look at the EVO 4G. Spring wants people to spend and extra $10 a month for the dataplan over the top of the rest of what they pay even if they don't offer 4G service in the area you bought the phone in. I really don't hope this is our future.

Re:I don't want this (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465072)

Not sure if you know this, but the money to upgrade has to come from somewhere. Despite popular belief, companies don't get money from the sky.

Re:I don't want this (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464738)

No, there's no reason for this at all. All you have to do is identify the bandwidth hogs, and then deprioritize their traffic. A simple algorithm could be devised to rank customers by their bandwidth usage, and then give them priority in inverse order of this. Then, the hogs will get crappy bandwidth during peak hours, but still be able to download to their hearts' content during off-hours when no one else is using the bandwidth. There's no reason to increase the infrastructure capacity.

Charging for bandwidth is asinine when during much of the day, that bandwidth is not being utilized at all (e.g., midnight to 8AM).

Re:I don't want this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464860)

No. "Bandwidth hogs" have exactly the same right to use peak time bandwidth as anybody else. Their off-peak usage doesn't make any difference whatsoever to the user experience of other customers, so their total volume of data can't reasonably influence their priority during peak times. The only fair queuing strategy is one which allots the same guaranteed percentage of bandwidth to each user and distributes unused guaranteed bandwidth evenly to other users. If the light users want more peak time bandwidth, they need to pay more. Peak time bandwidth is the cost determining factor.

Re:I don't want this (2, Insightful)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464960)

I propose to use token ring for all our mobile networks XD

Re:I don't want this (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465076)

You're right, off-peak usage shouldn't affect on-peak bandwidth significantly. However, I can see a case for on-peak bandwidth hogs being limited more than non-hogs during the same hours.

How about an algorithm that ranks users by their bandwidth usage versus the total BW utilization, only looking at the last 24 hours, and assigning reduced weight to BW use farther in the past? So, for instance, if we're currently in a peak usage time, and one user has been downloading ISOs for the last hour, he's ranked #1 and gets the lowest priority of all traffic. But someone who downloaded ISOs 12 hours ago during an off-peak time is ranked much, much lower and gets a high priority. Someone who downloaded ISOs 2 hours ago during a peak time, but stopped, will get a higher priority than the guy who's still downloading ISOs now. Someone who downloaded ISOs for 6 days straight, 3 weeks ago, but hasn't done anything since then, gets high priority.

To put it into an equation: rank = integral(from 24 hours ago until now) (usage * contention for BW) dt

This only gives a rank weighting all times the same; I'm not sure how to write the equation to weight it so that 24 hours ago has nearly no weight, 12 hours ago gets the value multiplied by 0.5, 6 hours ago by 0.75, and right now by 1.0. It's been too long since my college math courses.

Then, the users will be granted priority for their packets in inverse order of their ranking.

This seems like it'd be a very fair queuing strategy, assigning the most weight to the user's most-recent activity, and also weighting it by what the network contention is at every time-slice (e.g., zero contention (the hog is the only user) has zero affect on the ranking). Thus, customers who cause the least contention during busy times get the highest priority.

Re:I don't want this (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465096)

The light users do pay more, per MB.

When you write, "The only fair queuing strategy..." you should have written, "My favorite queuing strategy..."

Re:I don't want this (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464954)

the hogs will get crappy bandwidth during peak hours, but still be able to download to their hearts' content during off-hours when no one else is using the bandwidth

In science fiction circles this is known as "it was raining in planet X". The concept of "peak hours" only applies to your local time, not to the planet-wide internet.

Re:I don't want this (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465078)

Yeah, but how do they make more money with that plan?

Re:I don't want this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464762)

But if people keep using more and more bandwidth, someone will have to pay for more and more infrastructure to support the ever growing usage.

Gosh, maybe "someone" who posted billions in profits last quarter, even exceeding predictions [businessweek.com] could pay for the increased infrastructure?

Re:I don't want this (4, Insightful)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464988)

What about the billions the telcoms fleeced us for network improvements? Why would the government even subsidize profitable business? If they cannot afford to upgrade their networks, then something is dramatically wrong. Look at text messages. It costs them NOTHING to send them as they are sent over the control signal, yet they feel a need to charge upwards of .25 for one. This is all about fleecing the consumer and stifling innovation so they can get away with their rick shaw networks for another 5 years while the rest of the world outpaces us. How long did it take for 3g to come into america? Why are our cell phone plans so much more expensive than the european options? If they could get away with charging $100 for a 200 megabyte cap they'd totally try it.

I browsed the web for a few hours last night while listening to pandora via a 3g wireless tether to my G1. It didn't take long to break 100 megs. No multiply that times 30 and you start to see that it wouldn't take long to exceed a 2gig limit. 5gb or so seems fair, and I've almost exceeded that a few times with video and whatnot. I mean I understand that this isn't the same as a wired connection that has oodles of bandwidth available in the local loop. I understand that each cell site takes a dedicated connection and that costs a great deal. What bothers me is this whole bait and switch. A lot of people bought ipads on the premise of unlimited internet. Sure they are grandfathered, but for how long? It was the reason I decided to finally pony up the $100 a month a T-mobile contract costs me with android. If T-mobile went to a 2gig cap, I'd be really considering just paying the early termination fees and going back to the laptop+hotspot. Life wouldn't end necessarily.

To me it seems inevitable that in 5 years even 10gigs would likely not be enough. Especially at the 7-20mpbs the next generation of networks is supposed to start pumping out anytime now outside of new york and boston. Its like giving someone a Lamborghini with only a 5 gallon tank that you can only fill up once a month. I mean, what's the point really? Once android starts taking over the smartphone market with flash enabled those few gigs sure won't last long after you watch some 480p video or listen to some streaming music.

This is a really bad deal for consumers. One would hope that some of the other telcos don't follow suit and competition will hopefully sort things out. I won't hold my breath.

Rent (4, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464594)

Imagine, for a moment, if we bought real estate the way we buy electricity. We'd have a punch card at the door to record when we go out, and when we go in...

Re:Rent (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464914)

That's analogy makes no sense. All your shit is still in the place whether you're there or not. Your rent is based on two things - location and space ("amount used"). If you want a 5 bedroom house, 4 baths, etcetera, it's going to be a damn sight more expensive than 1 room studio. To make your analogy work, hotel rooms would have to be used and it still breaks down.

I think the A&TT change sucks. If you're work and home have wifi, you'll likely be below 200MB per month... but if not, you'll seriously need the 2GB plan. But there are still people who want unlimited. Unlimited doesn't mean unlimited data like someone posted comparing it to an unlimited electric plan. Unlimited in this case means you could download 24/7 on the limited bandwith on the phone. In analogy to electricity, you could easily have an "unlimited" plan, because even the 100/200 amp wire into your house has a "bandwidth" limit of the amount of electricity it can pull at any one time. From there, the electric company just has to figure the average people on unlimited plans actually pull down and adjust their rates to profit from that.

It's not unfeasible, although it will incentivize everyone to switch to electric heat and leave the AC running 24/7 as well as the lights and TV. Of course, if the unlimited electric plan was $499 per month, most people would opt per kwh. OTOH, I dont see that much of a big deal about having a data pipe open 24/7.

Re:Rent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464978)

It's called property taxes and neighborhood associations.

If you want to compare it to electricity.... (3, Interesting)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464596)

Then price it like electricity. Does anyone pre-pay for electricity?

Fortunately my power company doesn't rape my wallet if I use a few extra watts. At 25 dollars per 2gb then they should only charge you .0122 dollars per mb you go over right? Hell they should just charge you that rate regardless of what plan you buy.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464644)

My electricity company ramps up charges as you use more. Sort of like how taxes work.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (-1, Troll)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464958)

That is not really a pricing structure so much as a social engineering project. I hate fucking green.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (1)

paulbiz (585489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465020)

Where I live (midwest USA) the electricity actually gets cheaper the more you use... It's like they encourage you to use as much as possible for greater "savings".

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464648)

I'm not sure where you live, but most utilities here have a tiered structure where the price increases per kW as you use more than your allotment.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464962)

I'm not sure where YOU live, but that would be outlawed in most of Canada due to standard utility regulations.

You can consume a maximum of what your mains will supply continuously, and you pay a set price per KWH consumed.

the even IDEA that somebody could charge more as you use the connection you already paid to have installed, is ridiculous. if you pay for 200Amp service, you expect to get a maximum of 200A continuous draw as long as you want it, at a set price.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464650)

Agreed. Also, the electric company never lied to me by advertising unlimited electricity and then hiding actual rates and caps in very small print in their TOS.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464828)

Then price it like electricity. Does anyone pre-pay for electricity?

Or sign a 2 year contract just to get electricity at reasonable rates? I'm with you mayko.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (3, Interesting)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464844)

I belong to a coop for my electricity, and yes, we do pre-pay, in a way. We pay 31 bucks a month for a set amount of kilowatt hours, and if we go over, we get charged more.

The big difference between electricity and cellphone data charges though, is that if I see I'm going substantially over my limit - very easy to do in the summer - then I can self-regulate, by not using power hogs like air conditioners. Or I can split my load to partial electricity and partial propane (which is ALWAYS prepaid in these parts). That's very hard to do with data consumption. I mean, say you visit a specific news site every day. Not unreasonable. But how do you know what's going to be on the page from one day to the next?

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464880)

Most electricity suppliers have a "connection fee" you pay before you use a single kilowatt. My supplier (Pedernales Electric Coop) has a particularly bad connection fee of $22 per month. Your point is partially valid though. A reasonable base fee (say $10/month) plus an appropriate per gigabyte usage fee (say $2 or $3/GB) would be great.

Re:If you want to compare it to electricity.... (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465024)

Also, do you have to buy a separate electrical plan per each appliance, and then get locked into a 2-year deal with your electricity plan?

Oh, and also electricity is heavily regulated because it's a utility. Are cell phone carriers prepared to be treated that way?

Actually... (0)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464602)

Derene is wrong, wrong, wrong.

You could do subscription based power distribution. After all the generators run whether people are using power or not.

Re:Actually... (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464658)

If we didn't pay for the amount of electricity you used, people would use more electricity. After all, cranking the A/C down to 62 degrees don't cost nothin'! Then someone would have to pay for the extra generators to supply the extra demand.

Re:Actually... (3, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464834)

You don't pay by the watt hour for electricity your telephone uses, your house power could be done in a similar way.

Instead of paying per watt hour... your electricity usage is capped at any given point in time, you use as much or as little for a flat rate, but a special regulator circuit stops you from going over the cap... there are 3 plans.. the Lite plan, which includes 45 watts usage (Power a light bulb!), $60 a month; basically, the equivalent to the iPhone 2GB plan. The Bronze plan, which includes a 100 watts, "light up the whole house", for $100 a month... Gold includes 500 watts usage, "watch TV", $200 month, Platinum includes 1000 Watts usage, "perfect for cooking, and finally there is the high-power connection Energy Plus, 2000 Watts usage, "run an HVAC" system, only $500 a month.

During times when demand is higher, people trying to use too much electricity get their cap dropped.

Also, just because you have 45 Watts of usage, doesn't mean you are allowed to continuously use it all the time.

If usage is deemed excessive, power will be turned off, your account may be terminated at any time, at the sole discretion of the power company.

You may be forced to buy a more expensive plan if you continuously use 45 watts 24/7.

But the analogy still fails completely (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464894)

To make the analogy to electricity work, we would have to postulate a fantasy world where the power companies run no generators of their own, they just maintain the grid. Their customers pay them for access to that grid, and use it transfer energy around between them as needed. The problem is that the electric-power-line company isnt happy with the reasonable profits they are making, and dont want to upgrade their lines to keep up with demand. So they want to start metering the endpoints and charging for the power as if they ran the generators too, but without actually doing any generation themselves, and without even spending some small part of their profits upgrading the grid, which is currently staggering because they have multiplied their customer base many times without upgrading the infrastructure to support it. Instead of expanding the infrastructure to match demand, they figure they can make more money *fining* the customers that actually attempt to use it, and shaking down the people that DO actually generate electricity for ever more money.

Re:Actually... (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464660)

Actually the generators don't run all the time. There is great complexity involved to optimize the grid throughout the day. Natural gas turbines, for example, are expensive to run, but very easy/fast to bring online and offline so they get used during peak hours. Other plants (oil, coal, gas) reduce fuel usage and output during non-peak hours just as your engine uses less fuel idling than accelerating. Generally speaking you want those plants at 100% usage if possible, hence load leveling techniques like gas turbine generators, etc.

Re:Actually... (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464820)

You are wrong, wrong, wrong.

The generators do NOT run whether people are using power or not. Electricity generation are meticulously and continously matched to power demand, because otherwise the grid, the generators, transformers etc. would take physical damage or voltage would drop below acceptable levels, damaging some sensitive appliances and through brownouts cause major losses in some industry branches.

Thermodynamics: the energy generated has to go somewhere or it is converted to heat - and nothing can convert even a tiny fraction of the energy in the grid into heat and survive for more than a few seconds.

The instant you switch on your light bulb, the turbine blades / vanes of a generator will to be automatically adjusted my some microns and therefore extracting more energy from steam or gas they are fired with, with steam production or gas input matched every few seconds.

You didn't thought power had no marginal cost - that shutting down appliances didn't actually save some fuel in the power plant, did you?

Re:Actually... (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465006)

Generators are not all "Hot Standby". most of the power in north america is produced in response to demand, with a small float provided, and refilled whenever somebody draws from it.


Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464634)

They all rulez!! If you are not with them, you SUCKZ!!

if no control no meter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464640)

The issue that I had with a pay per byte used is that I had NO way to control the data going out of my phone. From my perspective I was not using an application that would use the network nor did I have any applications installed yet my windows mobile 6 phone would continue to drip data usage. I had no ability to monitor control or limit data usage.

The whole internet is based off a model that you don't have to meter your bytes which will mean mega bucks for over running your budget for these providers.

If by that you mean... (4, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464654)

Mixed Reception To AT&T's New Data Pricing Scheme

That's true provided your definition of "mixed reception" encompasses the pitchfork and torch carrying mob ready to storm AT&T headquarters.

Re:If by that you mean... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465052)

Oh, I thought they just mean that you couldn't get reliable reception with the AT&T data plan.

Two problems with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464662)

It's a media device that if I download two movies in a month from iTunes over the 3G I'll exceed my limit and Steve Jobs sold it as having an unlimited data plan. Also bandwidth is not the same as electric power. The actual power used is low it's all about infrastructure and AT&T wanting the money but not wanting to spend it on infrastructure. It's more like water being directed to your house from a large source. The problem is they don't want to install bigger pipes so they just fine you if you use too much water. The scam is 95% of the people, according to them it's even more, don't use all their bandwidth so they are trying to stop the handful that use more than the average. If they want to play it that way people that use less should get a refund.

Re:Two problems with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464748)

You can't download items larger than 10MB from iTunes or the App store over 3G.

But imagine this... (5, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464682)

Imagine, for a moment, if you bought infrastructure equipment, and sold only the capacity you could actually deliver at any given time? Regardless of whether your equipment is fully utilized or underutilized, you still have to pay the cost of the electricity to power it, and the real estate in which it is housed.

This is why flat pricing models are a good idea. Imagine for a moment if AT&T charged by the byte, and people stopped using all that bandwidth to save money. AT&T's income would decrease, but not their cost of business (hey, they've already bought the equipment, might as well use it...)

If AT&T charges a flat rate, they can predict their income and plan accordingly. However, if they charge by the byte, then they have to deal with fluctuating income from one quarter to the next. Not only this, but there are perhaps a sizable portion of their customers who will instead try to minimize their costs. With a fixed rate plan, they have no option. But with a pay-per-byte plan, users like me could use their services for pennies a month. AT&T is about to come to terms with the fact that most users will opt for using less bandwidth and forking over less money per month. The reason why people pay so much for data plans is because they have to, not because they want to. Give the people the ability to save money, and they will take advantage of it.

These kinds of plans have been tried before, and they always fail. Email is cheap, bandwidth-wise, and movies can be had from Netflix for less than the cost of the bandwidth used by the net.

Re:But imagine this... (2, Informative)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464986)

These kinds of plans have been tried before, and they always fail. Email is cheap, bandwidth-wise, and movies can be had from Netflix for less than the cost of the bandwidth used by the net.

What are you smoking??? Gasoline, Electricity, and (utility delivered) gas are all charged per-usage! Where I live, gas has a small monthly fee to keep up the pipes, but the vast majority of the bill is usage!

These kinds of plans work well when customers need an incentive to conserve, and everything I hear from the telcos is that they want us to conserve bandwidth because we use it as fast as they can build it.

Give them your money! (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464996)

What's special about "infrastructure equipment"? When your grocery store decides how much perishable food to stock, they have to make exactly the same kind of prediction. And yet few stores insist on monthly milk-buying contracts.

The truth is that a recurring fee is the ultimate wet dream of anybody designing a business model. Harder to do when there's real competition. Which there is in the grocery business.

And also in the wireless data business almost everywhere outside the U.S. Which is why, contrary to what you believe, that these models have been tried and do work, in countries where there's real competition in the wireless space.

Re:But imagine this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465098)

"AT&T's income would decrease, but not their cost of business (hey, they've already bought the equipment, might as well use it...)

If AT&T charges a flat rate, they can predict their income and plan accordingly"

You're assuming that US telcos charge a fair rate for the bandwith and equipment. Other countries show that to be pure bullshit.

Stupid comparison (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464684)

Electricity and other limited resources are NOT like data. The only limitation on an internet connection is bandwidth, which is a rate, rather than an absolute quantity. The comment in the article comparing unlimited data plans to unlimited electricity is just stupid, and shows a complete lack of understanding of basic physics.

If you burn 1000 kilowatt-hours of electricity (which equals 3.6 billion joules of energy), that energy had to come from a specific quantity of oil, coal, natural gas, or some other limited resource. Generally speaking, if you hadn't wasted that power, the power company would still have that much in natural resources left to use. So every unit of energy carries a dollar cost.

Data isn't like that. If the connection is present, it costs no more for the internet provider to transmit at maximum bandwidth versus transmitting nothing at all, for a given period of time. You might as well use it. The only limitation is bandwidth, since the "pipe" is only so big, so if everyone is trying to transmit/receive data at the same time, they're going to be limited as they have to share.

If the ISPs are worried about people hogging bandwidth, there are other ways of dealing with that, such as by limiting their individual bandwidth. For instance, those found to be hogs during peak times can have their bandwidth limited to less than others who are more occasional users. Limiting people to a specific quantity of data is just stupid and greedy. If someone downloads tons of stuff during off-hours, making use of bandwidth that would otherwise go unused, this does not cost the company anything, nor does it inconvenience other customers.

There is absolutely no reason data providers cannot place transparent bandwidth limits on hogs during peak hours so that everyone can get along, without having to add on any extra fees or hard limits, or causing any inconvenience to other customers.

Re:Stupid comparison (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464814)

Plus, with electricity you have more control over how much you use and consumption is more predictably related to what you do. Whereas the iPhone uses data for all kinds of things without asking you, and it's not predictable.

Ever travelled overseas w/ an iPhone? It's a *nightmare* to stay within a data budget (like if you pay for a fixed amount of roaming data). Even just receiving a voicemail that you don't listen to uses data. Basically you can either turn data roaming off completely, or play limit roulette. Because the amount of data you're using is outside of your control and it's not predictable *at all*.

Granted, if the data budget is set high enough, this should be less of a problem. But the point remains, on the iPhone, user control over metered data is not not like controlling electricity consumption in a house.

Re:Stupid comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464916)

Peak hours are no different than other times: Bandwidth which isn't used is wasted. If a light user doesn't use "his" bandwidth for a couple of minutes, it doesn't give him the right to a higher priority later on. A user who uses that otherwise wasted bandwidth does not deserve a penalty. The only packets which can ever be reasonably prioritized are the ones queued up in front of a congested interface, and only based on other packets in the queue at the same time.

Re:Stupid comparison (1)

mlippert (526036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465042)

Thanks that's an even better critique than the one I was about to mention.

I was going to mention TV, in particular Cable. I pay a flat rate for a particular set of channels and then I watch as much or as little as I want.

There are no additional costs to the cable provider if I watch more TV than the average subscriber.

I realize this isn't a perfect comparison because TV is multicast, which is why your analysis is better.


Mmeasured cs. Flat rates.. (3, Insightful)

yossie (93792) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464690)

I woud LOVE it if at&t and, in fact, all phone companies, just charged me a fixed cost per text message, per minute call, per 1M data. A rate that was competitive. This works just fine for the water works, the electric company, the postal service, the toll system on the highway, to name a few.
I would be OK if they tiered a bit - first 500 minutes talk at $0.05/minute down to $0.03/min till 2000 minutes, etc.. Same with texting, same with data - essentially switching on bulk mode as you "earn it."
Right now, through "fear" and published horror stories about giant bills, they manage to talk most people into "flat unlimited rate" - show me the person who uses exactly 200M of data, or exactly 900 minutes of talk time. Rollover is sorta nice, but the rules around it are petty and serve to lessen the usefulness (expired minutes, resetting when you change plans, etc..)
If everyone paid exactly for what they used - you and everyone of us would win. Flat unlimited rate is a great idea, except that it doesn't really save anyone money - unless the resource is unlimited - which bandwidth cannot claim to be - in fact, mathematically and economically speaking, it can't.

Like electricity? Not quite. (3, Insightful)

pirodude (54707) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464694)

When you pay your electric bill, you typically pay a flat rate (a connection charge) to your electric company for the transmission system, and a per kwh rate to them to buy electricity from any number of generating plants. Use 1 kwh or 1000kwh, your payment stays the same. Now if you want to jump to the next level (1ph 120v to 3ph 480v) then you pay a higher connection charge, but still don't pay more for your usage for the /transmission/ of the power.

If you want to follow that model then I'll gladly pay AT&T $5/month for their network transmission services, and a per MB rate that they can pass on to the webmasters and hosts of the websites that I visit.

Re:Like electricity? Not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464946)

Can you even get anything less than 2 phase 240 volts in the US? You connect one of those phases to neutral and you have 120V but connect the together and you have 240V.

Data = Electricity, Network = Powerline (2, Interesting)

Mike216 (1808602) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464710)

I don't understand why so many people make these analogies between networks and fuel/electricity/etc. AT&T isn't providing the data, they're providing the conduit you use to get it. I'll use the same example I used on the AT&T forums:

Two people pump x amount of gas each from a fuel pump at the same time. The hose is split so that they can do this simultaneously. This goes relatively quickly.
One hundred people pump x amount of gas each from a second fuel pump at the same time. Again, the hose is split so they can all do this at the same time. This takes considerably longer.

For those who think charging according to how much data you use is only fair, remember - all people mentioned above will end up being charged the exact same amount of money. In this case, they're paying the supplier for the hose based off how much they pump through it. This, IMO, is a much better analogy for what the carriers are doing.

It's not like electricity (2, Interesting)

irid77 (1539905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464724)


"Imagine, for a moment, if we bought electricity the way we buy data in this country. Every month, you would pay a fixed amount of money (say, $120), and then you would use as much electricity as you wanted, with an incentive to use as much as you could. That brings price stability to the end user, but it's a horrible way to manage electricity load."

That analogy doesn't work, because the main constraint for electricity isn't network capacity, it's the fact that most current methods of production consume a resource irreversibly, so you're being charged for the use of the resource, not just the use of the power lines. Data doesn't get "used up", only transferred around, so it's relatively easier/cheaper for cellular (or land) networks to increase their capacity to transfer data than it is for energy companies to produce more energy.

Stupid comparison (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464732)

Yet another ludicrous analogy from the industry.

Electricity is a finite resource. Generators can only make so much, and the more you make, the more energy in it requires, whether you are burning fuel or damming a river. If you try and plug too many devices in, they won't all work, or you'll blow a fuse, or none of them will work at all.

Bits are an infinite resource. Computers can make as many as you want, and the difference in power required between a few and a lot is negligible. If you try to plug too many devices in, the worst that happens is they might not work as quickly.

Electricity is a horrible analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464734)

Bandwidth isn't consumed, it is used or wasted. Network operators don't use fewer resources when their networks are idle. The only metric which determines the cost to the network operator is the regularly occurring peak load. Therefore pricing based on amount of data transferred doesn't fit the cost structure: It is purely an instrument of market segmentation.

Re:Electricity is a horrible analogy (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465022)

    That's something a lot of people don't get. When a provider puts in a line, it's a fixed size. It's always that size. It doesn't cost any more or less to maintain that line. Well, in trivial aspects, which we're not going to get into.

    What a lot of people don't see is, the more bandwidth a provider uses, the cheaper it gets. I've seen 1 Mb/s go for pennies (like $0.12 to $0.15), because the contract was so large (several Gb/s). I'm sure AT&T maintains huge pipes, and their pricing goes accordingly. Any charging for transfer is only in the interest of the company for a larger profit.

    Home users are the obvious abuse of this. They can get a 2Mb/s line for $15.00 or a 20Mb/s line for $100/mo. (arbitrary, unresearched numbers). At 2Mb/s, assuming $0.15/Mb/s, the base charge is $14.70, assuming no profit on the small lines. No better lines nor equipment are installed for the increased capacity. You just call up, and they change the limit. So at 20Mb/s, cost would then only be $17.70.

    As we know, very few users utilize 100% capacity all the time. For every Mb/s sold, they can oversell those 1000 times over.

    The same applies to cell service. Sure, they have a larger infrastructure, but that's reflected in the base price. The arbitrary caps and inflated overage fees are simply a way to make more money from the consumers. It's nothing more than that. That's how any business works though. How can we sell our product to optimize the profit.

    My favorite was always "business" phone lines. It costs $15/mo for a basic residential phone line. It costs $35/mo for a basic business phone line. I've known people who run home based businesses, and therefore buy a business line for the "office" and a residential line for the "house". There's no difference in the cost to the company, other than they can milk a business for more money.


Electricity? well... (2, Insightful)

gearloos (816828) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464740)

"Imagine, for a moment, if we bought electricity the way we buy data in this country" Well Bozo, going by that analogy, then AT&T shouldn't get any of the money as they aren't the one who is generating the data. Like Electricity, they would then have to buy data from every computer owner who is connected on the web as they would now be a "Data Generation Station". So, lets see when AT&T decides to pay PopSci or Popular Mechanics for the pleasure of transmission of their data. Right...

Re:Electricity? well... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464902)

Heck, if we talked about how we bought wired data until recently, the comparison would be that you'd be sold an unlimited electrical plan, but if you used more than 90 volts you got an angry letter from the ISP and executives claiming that you were hogging the wires while congressmen pontificated about tubes.

At least with metered billing we can discuss limits and such in a sane and rational matter.

Wow, that's a low price! (1)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464742)

Just think of how much Video streaming you can do with an ENTIRE 2 GB a month! And hey, the iPad/phone/touch don't support flash, so you don't need to worry about ad's eating up your bandwidth! All for just $25 (2 GB plan) a month, or an extra $20 if you want to have tethering. (great deal, amirite?)

"Smart" phones? (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464744)

BS like this keeps me from graduating from my pay-as-you-go phone where I average ~$10/mo to something snazzier that would immediately jump to ~$100/mo. The plans don't scale well at all to really light users like me who would enjoy the niftier phones, but had the gang rape every month when my 30 minutes of calls and couple email checks would still cost me ~$100.

Sadly sooner or later AT&T and the like will eventually find a quiet way to collude and make pay-as-you-go suck bad enough, or drive the prices up enough to ruin even that little haven of wireless bargains.

The new plan is a really bad idea (5, Insightful)

techmuse (160085) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464754)

The plan is just a way for AT&T to get rid of its least profitable customers. These are the ones who actually *use* the network capacity that they pay for. Most people are light users. They pay a lot of money but don't actually use much capacity. AT&T loves these people, because it's essentially free money. The ones who actually use the service are not very profitable, because AT&T has to provide capacity for them. (Capacity isn't needed if you don't use the network!) So rather than expanding capacity to match demand, they're making it economically infeasible to *use* the capacity that you pay for.

AT&T claims that most people use less than 2 GB/month. That's great, but that's partly because of the lack of good applications for most smartphones. (iPhone users use much more than half the data on the network.) Imagine if AT&T had imposed a cap based on what most people used in 1993. The web would have no pictures. You couldn't afford them. If they based it on what people used in 1996, the web would have no audio or video. You couldn't afford it. Same with most applications used today, network based software distribution, Skype, and many other things we take for granted. The cap makes higher bandwidth applications unaffordable for most users, and will seriously stifle the development of new technologies for mobile device.

This is a truly bad idea...

I kinda like it (1)

scrib (1277042) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464758)

I've had an iPhone for a year and a half. I love it, but for the last six months (the months I could review) I never even got up to 100MB per month. I use the phone all the time, but often within WiFi range.

I'd rather pay half as much to get what is still more than double my normal usage. It would also discourage casual youtube streaming and thus probably improve network speed for everyone.

The one thing I'd REALLY want from AT&T (and Apple) is an app that reliably monitors billable bytes in a billing period. ("Gosh, I'm close to my limit this month. Better watch the funny cat video at home.") I know you can dial *DATA# but it should be part of the "Settings" info.

Re:I kinda like it (1)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464952)

It wont improve your speed (Or at least within a noticeable amount)-- Your speed is limited by your device, which is 3G (if not worse.) The fact of the matter is that even if the network does become less congested, your max speed is your max speed-- even if it your speed does increase marginally, you aren't going to suddenly jump up to 30 Mbits/s just because casual youtubing has stopped, and well you're probably much more limited by the fact that it is in fact WIRELESS internet, you're unlikely to hit max speed, no matter how little network congestion there is. Of course it's possible, just not likely.

Re:I kinda like it (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464964)

Me too! Part of that is the slow speed of AT&T 3G, which makes anything other than email or simple browsing painfully slow. But I will be happy to save the $15/month with zero impact on my usage. Most of the heavy users I see posting on forums about this say they do stuff like continuously streaming audio all day, using their phone as a radio. Whatever floats your boat.

Re:I kinda like it (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465036)

Upgrading the network would improve the speed while actually letting you use the service you pay for. Casual youtube streaming is why you pay them. Bandwidth is not some resource that must be conserved.

Everyone Will Move To This (1)

BabyDuckHat (1503839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464766)

From a business perspective, this is the golden egg: 1) If you use less than your total minutes, you've overpaid = more money for the company 2) If you go over your minutes you pay an exorbitant overage charge = more money for the company Of course, it shanks the customer.

Plugging toasters into the wall (2, Interesting)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464768)

Some early toasters didn't come with the traditional two-pronged plug. Instead, you had to unscrew a light bulb and screw in the toaster's plug. Why? Because the electric company charged more for general-purpose outlets! Prior to metered billing, people paid for electricity by the number of fixtures and their estimated electric use. Everything became sane once the electric companies introduced metered billing.

Anyway, AT&T's $20 / month tethering plan is just going to make me switch when my contract is up. Charge me for the bandwidth that I use, not for the device!

Charge for tethering is a complete rip-off now (5, Insightful)

Logic Bomb (122875) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464780)

The ridiculous part is that they're still charging a fee to enable tethering. That sort of makes sense with an "unlimited" plan. Presumably, the plan price was based on an estimate of how much data you'd use. Since tethering will obviously drive up usage, that assumption is no longer valid. (This highlights the absurdity of so-called "unlimited" plans that aren't really.)

But now that you are paying for actual use, there's no excuse to charge anything for tethering. You've paid for 2 GB (or whatever), and it shouldn't matter how it gets used. If you use more, you pay more.

I'd really like to see a regulatory authority question that charge.

Re:Charge for tethering is a complete rip-off now (1)

ZildjianKX (872002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464850)

I agree with you 100%. Also, isn't this a violation of net neutrality? As I see it, they are discriminating against the packets originating from my laptop, and charging $20/month for the right to transmit those packets. We're already paying for the bandwidth, so they can't use that as an excuse.

App$ (1)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464782)

Curious to see if app revenue goes down, since many of them require bandwidth usage to function. Also, in the case of my Backflip, if AT&Twill still charge high monthly fees for bandwidth heavy apps like Navigator. If I'm paying extra to download maps, I sure as hell ain't paying $10 a month for a GPS app.

American phone companies charge too much (5, Informative)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464802)

When I was in Hong Kong, I just had to pay $51 USD per month [three.com.hk] and they'll give you unlimited 3G data with tethering, tons of voice minutes, wifi access at their hotspots throughout the city, and an legally unlocked iPhone 3GS.

Now I'm in Palo Alto, that barely buys me a voice plan. And even if I give them 2x what I did in Hong Kong, I'm still capped. And AT&T's reception in cities (like San Fran) sucks - yet it's Hong Kong that has more frickin' high rise buildings to block the 3G signals - and in Hong Kong 3G fucking works. I really, REALLY have no idea how any of you guys can try to defend AT&T over their crap service.

Re:American phone companies charge too much (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464936)

I really, REALLY have no idea how any of you guys can try to defend AT&T

But... but... the population is more dense there so it's cheaper to run the wireless wires because everyone is closer together</defaultbandwidthapologistexcuse>

It's about budget all right (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464826)

The issue with per-unit data plans is that there's a big difference between my data usage and my electricity usage: who's in control. With electricity I know how much my appliances use every month, and I can control that by controlling my appliances. If my electricity bill's too high, I can elect to turn off lights more or switch to lower-wattage or more-efficient bulbs. I can turn my computer off when I'm not using it. I control how much electricity I use and when, and I have a fairly fine degree of control over it.

With data, I've nowhere near that control. When I open a Web page, I don't even know how much data it'll involve until after it's done loading. The Web site's in control of what's on it's pages, and if it decides to ship me 50 megabytes of graphics and scripts and such all I can do is not visit that site at all. And I've still eaten up that 50 megabytes finding out that I will, so really I have to avoid visiting any Web site I haven't visited before and know how much it'll send me. That, to me, isn't real control. And that lack of control's why I want a fixed-rate plan or I'm not going to use the data features much if at all.

Re:It's about budget all right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465066)


imagine if... (1)

chstwnd (1751702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464848)

we bought mobile data like we buy hardline data in this country. the service would (relatively) constantly improve, and come down in price with no caps or bandwidth throttling and (relatively) no restrictions on content. This business model has proven to work for the past decade and more, and it has benefited both providers and consumers. But probably not with the 100% profit margin that the providers grubby little hands would like it to. So, now one of the principal reasons for these companies trying to enact the pay-as-you-go model is SURELY to apply it to their landline business, as well. They're already trying it with the throttling, and I know there've been a few attempts at putting download caps on things, which would be a regression to the early AOL and dial-up ISP days.

Inapt analogy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464858)

I am fine with the idea of putting a price on data, but the comparison to electricity is a poor analogy. The cost of providing electricity to someone, more or less, scales linearly with how much they use--each kWh is some amount of fuel that must be burned. The cost of transporting data from point A to point B does not scale linearly, though. E.g., once my router is plugged in, the cost of transferring 1GB from one of my machines to another is very nearly zero compared to just letting the hardware sit there. On the other hand, if I bake a pizza instead of letting my oven just sit there, that's 1kWh or so of electricity that would not otherwise need to be generated. Obviously that's an oversimplification, because the more heavy bandwidth users you have, the more hardware you have to install, so at large scales increased data transfer does increase cost. Nevertheless, it does not scale linearly, because there are economies of scale: bringing 1GB/s into someone's home does not cost 1000 times as much as bringing 1MB/s into someone's home. For energy, though, we've essentially maxed out on the economies of scale and are essentially in linear territory. (Yes, the local provider has an upstream provider, but still...)

Sell T... (1)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464888)

the stocks going down.

Just checked my usage... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464904)

I used 4.22gb so far this service month on my Droid.

Obviously this doesn't affect verizon - yet - but I'm not looking forward to when it does.

Deja vu all over again (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464972)

Doesn't anyone remember AOL and paying by the hour? That model was probably closer to actual costs than this AT&T plan, and we were all happy to get rid of that headache. If an ISP wants more money from me, then they can offer me more speed at a higher price and maybe even offer some services themselves that can utilize high speed internet, for both home and mobile users.

The goal-post moves. (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464974)

I don't trust ISPs. They will generally always place the over-limit to be somewhere around 3-5 days if you are downloading constantly, so it's like a trap. I have always wanted a plan with a slower speed, but no trap... and if they offered plans like that this issue nowadays would be moot. So much for setting up an always-running webcam etc.

Imagine for a moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465026)

That when we made analogies to utility usage they actually made sense and were applicable to the problem space.

The bottom line right now is the best of wireless technologies just are not capable of scaling with the densities and performance of traditional broadband services. Carriers might think they are leaving money on the table. My suspicion is their customers might think they get WiFi anywhere they go so whats the point in paying an extra $40 a month for high latency capped data services that have zero chance of working in any metro area.

With the aggregation of carriers in US pricing is moving out into absurd wacko land realitive to other countries. What we need is the FCC and government to help reduce the barrier to entry for new wireless telecoms to compete with the AT&Ts of the world.

I can sort of relate to this... (2, Interesting)

oddaddresstrap (702574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465040)

Back when we ran a small, dialup ISP, we charged everyone the more or less standard $20 per month. Then we did a little number crunching and found that most people used less than 100 hours a month, but there were a handful that were online pretty much 24/7. In at least one case, it was a family that had mom on ebay during the day, the kids gaming until late and then dad on during the wee hours. They complained bitterly when we raised the fee for "unlimited", but calmed down when we explained that it cost us around $22 a month just for the phone line they were using and by charging them $20 a month, we were subsidizing their connection.
At least in our area, the situation remains somewhat the same, where ISPs have to buy more bandwidth to keep customers happy during the peak evening hours when more people are streaming more stuff (ie, Netflix and p2p) every day.

The entire cellular industry is a crock of $#^& (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465108)

The entire cellular industry is a crock of %#^$
(and no, im not saying its full of perl)

They make you sign contracts that they then don't honor by tacking on endless fees and surcharges just to hide the true price for the service. And if you cancel it, get ready for a hefty early termination fee.

As more and more people text message excessively, they routinely up the per message/text message prices. Yea, they have to deal with capacity changes, but even taking those into account, it doesn't cost them much to send them. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMS)

They do it because they can and we will just continue to pay 'em.

Why don't they charge us like electricity? Yea sure, some people would have a higher bill, but they would just stop using it as much, while a vast majority of us would have a lower bill.

Expensive per MB (3, Interesting)

mprindle (198799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465112)

What really bugs me about the rate changes is how much they are charging per MB when compared to a standard DSL or cable connection at home. Comcast now has a 250GB / 250,000MB data cap and my service runs around $43 per month. So my cost runs around .017 cents per MB assuming I use my full 250GB allotment.

With AT&T's model the cost per MB on the $15 plan is 7.5 cents per 200 MB and the $25 plan is 1.25 cents per 2,000 MB. This is roughly a 440% and a 73% respective increase of the cost of my home bandwidth.

Yes I know it's not quite a apple to apple comparison, but the cost of the bandwidth and wireless support can be no where near the prices they are charging. Unfortunately in the states this goes for the biggest two wireless carriers ATT and Verizon.

I have no problem paying for what I am using, but the pricing of there data is way out of the ball park.

Note: Yes I know my numbers are not exact and I also know I didn't use the standard 1,024k when doing my calculations from GB to MB.

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