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AT&T Downplays Talk of Tiered Pricing for iPhone Data Plans

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AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega, who received significant attention for his comments last week suggesting that the company is looking at tiered pricing for data plans to rein in high-use customers, appears to now be downplaying that suggestion, according to a Wall Street Journal report (subscription required).
A senior AT&T Inc. executive dismissed speculation that the telecommunications carrier is planning to change the way it prices data plans for its wireless customers, but said it will give customers incentives to limit their use of its wireless network for surfing the Internet or downloading mobile applications.

"We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing," AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega said Wednesday, referring to plans that would charge based on how much data a customer uses rather than the unlimited plans that are popular today.
While de la Vega's statement certainly doesn't appear to take tiered pricing options off the table for the long-term, as the earlier report suggested such a move would be anyway, it does emphasize AT&T's current strategy of using "incentives" and other strategies for shifting traffic off of its network instead of changing the pricing structure of its wireless plans.

In particular, de la Vega reportedly cited the possibility of increasing free access to Wi-Fi hotspots for AT&T customers, helping to shift traffic off of the cellular network while also providing users with faster connections. He also pointed to AT&T's 3G MicroCell program, which customers can connect to their home networks to seamlessly shift wireless calls to the Internet. The 3G MicroCell is designed to provide greater signal strength indoors and offers users the choice of using their own cellular minutes for calls or purchasing an unlimited calling plan for wireless calls routed through the device.

Article Link: AT&T Downplays Talk of Tiered Pricing for iPhone Data Plans
 

JPark

macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2006
659
147
I seem to be in the minority, but I have no problem with a fair tiered data plan. We've been using tiered voice plans since the beginning and I don't see why data should be any different. Give the customer an easy way to view how much data they've used, take off any restrictions about what they use that data for (VOIP, text messages, streaming tv, whatever), and allow them to choose a plan that works for them.
 
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Doctor Q

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Sep 19, 2002
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Los Angeles
The growing coverage provided by Wi-Fi hotspots will take care of some of the demand for bandwidth, but growth in demand seems likely to outpace it for some time to come.
 
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alphaod

Contributor
Feb 9, 2008
22,177
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NYC
I wouldn't mind the Microcell at all, but it needs to be cheaper, if not free.
 
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countrydweller

macrumors 6502
Jul 16, 2009
447
0
I seem to be in the minority, but I have no problem with a fair tiered data plan. We've been using tiered voice plans since the beginning and I don't see why data should be any different. Give the customer an easy way to view how much data they've used, take off any restrictions about what they use that data for (VOIP, text messages, streaming tv, whatever), and allow them to choose a plan that works for them.

I agree, this would pass the cost of the data usage to the ones actually using it. To increase the cost of all data plans let's the data hogs pass their costs on to the us, the average data user.
 
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Kar98

macrumors 6502a
Feb 20, 2007
875
212
 
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macphisto

macrumors regular
Jun 29, 2002
233
13
At home
If they reduced or gave us the option to eliminate the data (like they did for the original iPhone) for those of use who don't use much data anyway, I would be more in favor of the tiered model.
 
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topmounter

macrumors 68020
Jun 18, 2009
2,295
462
FEMA Region VIII
With the 10MB download cap I barely use 5GB per YEAR on my iPhone 3G. Please give me a way to pay something commensurate with the amount of data I actually use. The term "unlimited" needs to be stricken from every piece of wired and wireless ISP literature now and forever.
 
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guitarman777

macrumors regular
Sep 15, 2005
213
34
Orlando, FL
The growing coverage provided by Wi-Fi hotspots will take care of some of the demand for bandwidth, but growth in demand seems likely to outpace it for some time to come.

I rarely come across any of their hot spots, and I'm in a pretty high-populated area. I'd rather they spend their time improving the network in order to support that kind of demand, but that's just me.
 
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ferrous

macrumors regular
Aug 21, 2007
207
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Repoblikan'i Madagasikara
Is AT&T going to pay us back for poor or no service?

If they want to charge extra for using the network more, are they planning to credit customers for having poor or available network? On my way home on the train, half of my trip my iPhone doesn't have service, I propose AT&T should then credit me for the time I spend without the service.
 
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Andronicus

macrumors 6502a
Apr 1, 2008
726
354
I'm just going to restate what i said when I posted this thread prior to the bot putting it on the front page...

I think a lot of people may take this the wrong way (maybe I'm one of those people), but it seems trying to bribe your customers to use less of your service is not a good buisness scheme. Especially since all the heat AT&T has been taking lately concerning their network & of course they defend the hell out of it "fastest 3g network" now it sounds like "fastest 3g network....but please don't use it!!"
 
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JPark

macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2006
659
147
If they want to charge extra for using the network more, are they planning to credit customers for having poor or available network? On my way home on the train, half of my trip my iPhone doesn't have service, I propose AT&T should then credit me for the time I spend without the service.

I propose you check the service map and terms of agreement before signing a two year contract.
 
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JPark

macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2006
659
147
I'm just going to restate what i said when I posted this thread prior to the bot putting it on the front page...

I think a lot of people may take this the wrong way (maybe I'm one of those people), but it seems trying to bribe your customers to use less of your service is not a good buisness scheme. Especially since all the heat AT&T has been taking lately concerning their network & of course they defend the hell out of it "fastest 3g network" now it sounds like "fastest 3g network....but please don't use it!!"

I don't think the policy is a bad one, but I think their PR skills could use a lot of work. It's too easy these days to take everything AT&T does and put a negative spin on it. They need to be more proactive in marketing the benefits of a tiered data plan or just keep their mouths shut completely until they have something definite to announce.
 
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LagunaSol

macrumors 601
Apr 3, 2003
4,798
0
All carriers suck so bad. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint...they all display a complete and utter disregard for their customers. Depressing and infuriating.

I wish there was a chance of a new player (or players) entering the market.
 
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countrydweller

macrumors 6502
Jul 16, 2009
447
0
If they want to charge extra for using the network more, are they planning to credit customers for having poor or available network? On my way home on the train, half of my trip my iPhone doesn't have service, I propose AT&T should then credit me for the time I spend without the service.

If you download 10 gigs a month when the signal is good, 10 people download a gig a month, should the cost be shared equally or should you pay more for the service?
 
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dagamer34

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2007
1,359
101
Houston, TX
With the 10MB download cap I barely use 5GB per YEAR on my iPhone 3G. Please give me a way to pay something commensurate with the amount of data I actually use. The term "unlimited" needs to be stricken from every piece of wired and wireless ISP literature now and forever.

Just to be factually clear, the 10MB limit only applies when trying to download something from the iTunes Store on the iPhone. However, any other downloads are easily permitted. In fact, you can stream podcasts that are over 10MB in size by pressing the preview button (but not download and save them for later, which is dumb!)
 
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switched on

macrumors member
Feb 22, 2006
41
0
I don't think that it's appropriate for him to cite a test program that currently does not have a rollout plan. He may as well have used 4G as a proposed solution, life on Mars or telepathic abilities.

That said, I'm a fan of a tiered program, however it would have to start by taking a 'lower-cost' stance, allowing people to lower their bills to cap their usage (wasting time because it's there) if it fits their needs, rather than just putting the screws to the people who are actively using the network. That small percentage of people, would decrease in size, just because people who wanted to save money would be forced to regulate themselves. It's at least a move toward the model that some suggest, without pissing off the user base. That's why it will never happen.
 
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lazyrighteye

macrumors 68020
Jan 16, 2002
2,035
856
Denver, CO
I wondered how quickly Ralph would back track from those ill-advised statements last week. Seriously, does he really think AT&T can change customers' data plan rates mid-stream and 1) not have a PR nightmare on his hands and 2) retain customers?

And the micro cell option: last I heard/read, AT&T was talking some pretty hefty fees for owning & operating their micro cell offering. Which seems weird for the customer to foot the bill of improving AT&T's network - at least, so blatantly.

MNVO please!
 
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smeagol

macrumors regular
Jul 14, 2003
117
39
New York
How about just fixing the damn network instead of the constant whining. AT&T is reaping the benefits of adding lucrative smartphone contracts, but is spending less on upgrading and maintaining their crappy network. They could start by adding more cell sites to distribute network load particularly in NYC, San Francisco and Chicago. Why advertise unlimited plans and not expect people to use it, why advertise network superiority then encourage people not to connect to it. They better get their asses in gear cause the cellular landscape is changing. The future of cellular belongs to connected devices like the iPhone, Androids, Pres, Tablets, Netbooks, Pixis and eBooks so AT&T needs to shape up or shrivel into insignificance.
 
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JPark

macrumors 6502a
Jun 5, 2006
659
147
I wondered how quickly Ralph would back track from those ill-advised statements last week. Seriously, does he really think AT&T can change customers' data plan rates mid-stream...

Maybe you read what he said last week from a different source, but I didn't read anything that indicated they were planning to do anything like that.
 
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jvanber

macrumors newbie
May 1, 2009
5
0
riiiight

but said it will give customers incentives to limit their use of its wireless network for surfing the Internet or downloading mobile applications.

I'm sure an example of this "incentive" will be something like NOT charging you a penalty of $50/month. Give your kids incentive to clean their rooms: threaten spanking them.

Obviously they saw the backlash his original comments caused, so they're just going to do the same thing with a different spin this time around.

I don't think it will stick. Cell-phone minutes started out tiered. While technically they are still "tiered", the complex plans of rollover-minutes, friends and family, mobile-to-mobile, nights & weekends, bla-bla-bla have virtually made most cell-plans unlimited.

It's definitely a far cry from my 200-minute plan I had back in 1997. Why don't they package plans like this anymore? Because the overages and roaming would KILL you, and it happened all the time. Being a technician, it wouldn't be uncommon for a normally $180/month cell phone bill to be $350.00 if the right calls and the wrong roaming/overages came into play. Thank goodness it was a business phone, and I could justify the overages.

I think trying to keep track of your data is even less realistic. Sure, some apps and phones keep track, but what if you update your phone and it resets the counters? Do you just guess for a while? I think that Verizon now considers any data transmission to be a minimum of a megabyte, so if you download a 1K file, you get charged with 1 MB worth of usage. Nice.

I've been with AT&T Wireless since 1999, back when it was a much different network and much different company. If they go to a tiered plan, I'll just look at different carriers, plain and simple. Maybe they're doing me a favor.
 
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SnapMac

macrumors newbie
Jul 10, 2008
12
0
I'm curious as to why it would matter?

I don't use my "portion" of the network frivolously, so no amount of incentive will matter to me. I am going to use what I use because I need to use it...PERIOD! So a tiered price for data use would be fine, but how is going to help. Just because it costs me more doesn't mean that I am going to use it less. I assume this would be the case with most other "smart phone" users. Therefore, all we will be doing is paying more and getting the same service (or loss of service).

The simple fact of the matter is ALL carriers, not just AT&T need to spend some money on infrastructure. We are becoming a data needy planet. Carriers need to step it up or, as someone previously mentioned, a new-comer will come in and change the game for them!
 
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mikes63737

macrumors 65816
Jul 26, 2005
1,135
314
How about just fixing the damn network instead of the constant whining. AT&T is reaping the benefits of adding lucrative smartphone contracts, but is spending less on upgrading and maintaining their crappy network. They could start by adding more cell sites to distribute network load particularly in NYC, San Francisco and Chicago. Why advertise unlimited plans and not expect people to use it, why advertise network superiority then encourage people not to connect to it. They better get their asses in gear cause the cellular landscape is changing. The future of cellular belongs to connected devices like the iPhone, Androids, Pres, Tablets, Netbooks, Pixis and eBooks so AT&T needs to shape up or shrivel into insignificance.

You have it exactly right. AT&T needs to fix this, not its users.
 
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