Analyst: Enjoy your unlimited iPhone data plans while they last

Hammacher Homepage 300x250“In a research note this morning, Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi considers the issues the iPhone has created for AT&T and other carriers. He writes that the iPhone has proven to be a mixed blessing for AT&T and other carriers, accelerating adoption of wireless data plans, but also triggering severe network performance degradation, customer dissatisfaction, higher capital spending and lower return on invested capital,” Eric Savitz reports for Barron’s.

“Sacconaghi estimates that the average iPhone users consumes 5x-7x as much monthly bandwidth as an average wireless voice subscriber, and more than 2x the amount used by the average 3G smartphone user. He says the average iPhone user consumes 250-350 MB/month including voice, which is above the 200-250 MB entry level data plans Verizon and AT&T offer,” Savitz reports. “He notes that some heavy users gobble 1-5 GB a month; he calculates that some of the heaviest users effectively have a net present value to the carriers of zero.”

Savitz reports, “In Sacconaghi’s view, the situation eventually will trigger usage-based pricing in the U.S.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. He says the average iPhone user consumes 250-350 MB/month including voice

    I’m not sure how valid that is – isn’t voice already paid for separately from the data plan? Sounds like some flawed number work being done.

    Though I suppose one way the telecos could pitch capped data plans, would be to do away with charging by minutes, and simply charge by data transfer. This would allow them to accomodate VOIP services without worrying about losing their minutes money.

    Even so, there’ll be plenty of opposition to caps, now that we’ve all had a taste of not having to worry about our data usage at all.

  2. If they actually go to usage-based plans, they had damned well better let me opt out of one entirely. That, or charge me nada for non-usage because the first thing I will intend to do is to turn off my Edge/3G. No way/no how am I about to risk exceeding my quota and then pay through the nose for overage charges.

  3. @ Mac-nugget:

    Meaning that a 6gb cap is already quite enough in terms of usage. That cap can change, but as far as the possible caps go for US carriers, anything can happen.

  4. What did AT&T;expect to happen once Apple unleashed the most amazing mobile internet device ever seen by man? Are they saying that they didn’t expect a drastic increase in demand for mobile bandwidth? How is this possible? Steve Jobs certainly expected it. Would he have made an exclusive deal with a network that hadn’t promised to deliver? HAH! So AT&T;fails to deliver what they promised, and now the “analysts” are blaming the iPhone? Give me a break!

  5. Here in Australia, all the plans are capped with respect to data, although there are several unlimited call plans.

    I have a 1GB cap and have never come close to going over it and I use my iPhone to access the web whenever I feel like it without stopping to think about my limit.

    The caveat is I do not currently receive my attachment-heavy work e-mails via my iPhone but even then I estimate 1GB would be sufficient despite sending and receiving 4-5 MB attachments multiple times per week

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