AT&T: Expect tighter control of iPhone data usage ahead

Apple Sale“Wireless data hogs who jam the airwaves by watching video on their iPhones will be put on tighter leashes, an AT&T Inc. executive said Wednesday,” Peter Svensson reports for Associated Press.

“The carrier has had trouble keeping up with wireless data usage, leading to dropped connections and long waits for users trying to run programs on their devices,” Svensson reports.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s messy. Programs – or apps – run just fine; it’s those requiring network access via AT&T’s network 3G or EDGE that might cause users – iPhone or otherwise – to wait.

Svensson continues, “AT&T is upgrading its network to cope, but its head of consumer services, Ralph de la Vega, told investors at a UBS conference in New York that it will also give high-bandwidth users incentives to ‘reduce or modify their usage.’ De la Vega didn’t say exactly how or when the carrier would change its policies, but he said some form of usage-based pricing for data is inevitable,” Svensson reports. “Right now, the carrier has a monthly usage cap of 5 gigabytes on its data plans, the same as other carriers.”

Svensson reports, “Just 3 percent of ‘smart’ phone users are consuming 40 percent of the network capacity, de la Vega said, adding that the most high-bandwidth activity is video and audio streaming. Several applications on the iPhone provide nonstop Internet radio.”

MacDailyNews Take: Radio? What’s that? Hey, now that baseball season’s over, at least we’re not streaming full game video and audio every night.

Svensson continues, “De la Vega also defended the network’s performance, saying testing showed that AT&T’s third-generation, or 3G, network was faster than that of competitors, and that major problems are concentrated in New York and San Francisco, which are packed with smart phone users.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: No U.S. network could have handled what iPhone’s thrown at it over the last 2+ years. While immensely irritating, it’s no wonder that AT&T never turns on the iPhone tethering they’ve been promising us for over a year.

52 Comments

  1. What’s the point of offering all these video and audio streaming apps if ATT isn’t going to allow you to use them at your leasure? Apple needs to have a serious talk with ATT if they don’t want to have disgruntled customers in the near future.

  2. “No U.S. network could have handled what iPhone’s thrown at it over the last 2+ years.”

    Awwww, poor ATT.

    Apple should stamp that as a disclaimer on the back of every iPhone sold in the US.

  3. I cannot imagine watching a video or listening to a radio broadcast via the 3g network on my first generation iphone.The 3g network speed is intolerably slow and I seldom use it. I use it at home to surf the net via the wifi connection.

  4. So just charge 30 cents to send a mms… or even better charge 15 cents for a sms that says “Hi”

    Yes AT&T;, blame your customers for wanting to use your network. Good business model!

  5. This is the attitude from corporations I find most irritating: You’re using the service you’re paying for more than we expected! Now you must be punished!

    Instead of looking at it from the customer’s point of view, and saying: Wow, look what they can do now that they could not before!

    Yes, I understand if response is overwhelming. But, the response is NOT to blame the customers for that, but to admit you’re overwhelmed and outline the steps you’re going to take to fix that situation. Not talk about gouging people and antagonizing your customers needlessly. They should be proud to have people stretching what they’re capable of doing. And what did they expect in SF?

  6. “No U.S. network could have handled what iPhone’s thrown at it over the last 2+ years.”

    The problem looming is not present overloading of bandwidth…it is the future. More and more people are going to smartphones and a vast suck is inevitable. While some “rationing by price” may be inevitable, the only long term solution is vastly increasing bandwidth capacity.

  7. dave smith:

    Jailbreaking the iPhone won’t make any difference, other than letting you install applications not in the App Store.

    To avoid AT&T’s data plan, you’d have to terminate your contract early (and pay early termination fee), then switch to the ordinary voice plan. No jailbreaking, unlocking or anything.

    If you wish to use that iPhone on T-Mobile, you’ll need to unlock it first. 3G won’t work, though, since T-Mobile uses different frequencies.

  8. your 1st gen iphone doesn’t use the 3G network, Edge is pretty slow, I agree, but that was no surprise. I recall several people holding back on first gen iPhone because it was not able to have 3G, which while not perfect, is still significantly more useable than Edge.

    I stand by the Verizon ad. My coverage in San Francisco is simply abysmal and AT&T;should be ashamed of their spotty coverage.

    I can’t even answer the phone in my house.

    Oh— and another thing— I’ve never had any network performance issues really, my problem is finding and staying connected to the network at all.

  9. @ macrick: I cannot imagine watching a video or listening to a radio broadcast via the 3g network on my first generation iphone.

    Ummmmm… first-generation iPhone doesn’t have 3G. Only Edge. That might be your problem right there.

  10. Contrary to MDN’s take, plenty of people listen to internet radio. I have several stations that I listen to off and on that have large mixes that I could never afford to buy; in some cases music that probably isn’t available to buy in the US; I know a lot is not available from iTunes.

    Further more, I listen to types of music I would not let take up space on my iPhone, much less buy.

    I know this piece is not generally about radio but about video, but I’d be careful about blowing off existing uses of bandwidth you don’t care about. Some uses you DO care about might be next.

  11. Predrag thank you for your comments. I have not bought an iPhone because of the data prices. But I notice the data prices are the same everywhere. I will take note of this and buy a new iPhone next year after the new ones come out.

  12. Apparently I’m one of those few people who has no problems whatsoever with my AT&T service. It works just fine wherever I am. I try to recognize that not everywhere is this fortunate, but honestly, some of the hyperbole you guys use starts to sound a bit unbelievable.

    @ Ron Robertson – This is the attitude from corporations I find most irritating: You’re using the service you’re paying for more than we expected! Now you must be punished!

    That’s exactly what irritates me, too. They’re advertising “unlimited”, and yet they’re shocked that people are using it in an unlimited way! What did they expect? And caps are not the answer. We’re paying them a lot of money they ought to be using to make their network better, not just to make sure their top execs can buy another yacht.

  13. @Predrag

    Simply terminating your contract with ATnT to avoid a data plan won’t work. They “require” a data plan with the iPhone and if they detect that you are using one on their network without one, they will add it back on. And supposedly… they really can detect it.

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