Tag Archives: AT&T

AT&T and FaceTime – Why are you Surprised?

FaceTime over cellular from AT&T will only be available to Mobile Share customers:

Customers who stay on a grandfathered unlimited plan or a tiered plan will be limited to using FaceTime over a WiFi connection. 

(Via TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog)

Not to be a jerk, or anything. But duh. You really thought AT&T was going to allow unlimited free long-distance video calls over their network? 

I’ve been telling people for years that holding on to an old grandfathered unlimited plan was a waste of money. If you are only using 2-6 GB of data every month (which most people are), but keeping the unlimited as a “future proof” strategy, you’ve been spending more money every month for nothing. And sooner or later, when it really mattered and you really DID have some new feature that would eat up much more data, AT&T was going to pull the rug out from under you, anyway. 

The house always wins.

I thought it would be 4G (the real 4G, LTE, not the nonsense “4G” that AT&T gives us now) that would spell the end of unlimited data for all. Now it looks like FaceTime over 3G beat it by a few months. 

Pay your early cancellation, if you want, and move over to Verizon or somewhere else. That’s your right. But don’t be surprised that AT&T wasn’t going to give this one away for free just because you’ve been loyal. That’s pretty naive, you have to admit. 

Nice infographic from Tech Hive on LTE speeds

Infographic: 4G LTE speeds, Verizon vs. AT&T:

The infographic below shows each carrier’s average LTE speed in the cities we tested where both LTE services are offered. The cities are ranked according to a composite score of AT&T and Verizon LTE download speed.

(Via Tech Hive)

The problem with average speeds in tests like this is that they mean almost nothing compared to your real-world performance. Now that I’m carrying an AT&T phone and a Verizon iPad, I have to say, Verizon is hands-down the better choice for me personally. And I’m very often getting faster speeds than this average on LTE with my iPad.

More importantly, I’m getting extremely fast speeds in places where I get zero signal on AT&T. And many of them are places I frequent.

But that’s me. I know other people who live in other places where AT&T is absolutely the right choice. I know people who live in San Francisco for whom AT&T is a better choice. Cell coverage is still a very touch and go thing.

So, as always, your mileage may vary. You have to take that into consideration before charts like this sway your decision-making, interesting as they are.

AT&T will begin throttling heavy wireless users on old grandfathered unlimited plans

The company notes that “Starting October 1, smartphone customers with unlimited data plans may experience reduced speeds once their usage in a billing cycle reaches the level that puts them among the top 5 percent of heaviest data users.

This is not surprising. And my guess is it’s just the beginning. Expect more stringent throttling soon.

Lots of my friends and some prominent bloggers kept their “grandfathered” plans last year when AT&T dropped the unlimited plan. They were no doubt thinking as long as they kept paying the higher fees for the old unlimited plan, they’d be able to keep that indefinitely. This, despite the fact that many of them don’t use anywhere near the 2GB a month cap on the cheaper $20 plan.

But I dropped my unlimited immediately, figuring that at the very least, when 4G comes out, AT&T would come up with some excuse why that was a DIFFERENT data plan, and thus wasn’t eligible for unlimited. Now it looks like they’re not even going to wait until the 4G iPhone rolls around.

So why pay $10 a month more in the meantime for something you’re not using, if in the future, when you need that extra data most, the carrier is just going to pull the rug out from under you anyway?

AT&T capping desktop Internet access. Cable companies will follow.

How does AT&T defend the move? The company explains it will only impact two percent of consumers who use “a disproportionate amount of bandwidth,” and poses the caps as an alternative to throttling transfer speeds or disconnecting excessive users from the service completely. Customers will be able to check their usage with an online tool, and get notifications when they reach 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of their monthly rates.

This impacts two percent of customers today. What about five years from now? Once we all start streaming all of our television and movies through the Internet at 2160p, how many gigabytes will the average user be downloading a month?

Any sort of bandwidth cap is a huge step backwards for the Internet. It’s a step towards limiting access to only those who have the means to keep paying a premium. It creates, at best, a divided highway; one wide open five-lane autobahn with no speed limit for the rich, and one congested, two-lane, pot-holed mess for everyone else.

But our useless government won’t do anything to stop it.

Conspiracy Theory Regarding the AT&T Data Plan Changes

There’s something very curious about the 200MB Data Plus plan. That number, 200MB, wasn’t chosen randomly. Now that I’ve been reading all these bloggers out there (like my friend, Webomatica) posting their usage over the past six months, I’m noticing a pattern. Most people are right around that 200MB mark most months. As am I. Some months it’s 190MB, some it’s 230MB. But somewhere close to that number.

Now, think about the price for overages. AT&T charges $15 more for an additional 200MB, if you go over the 200MB limit. If you are on the Pro plan, which costs $25, you only pay an extra $10 for an additional 1GB. 

So they charge more for 200MB than for 1GB of extra data. 

Here’s my theory: AT&T is betting that most of us will switch to the 200MB plan, because we’ll figure that we’re close to that most months, anyway, and if we go over, it’s just $15 more, which puts us at the same $30 we pay now. If the incentive instead leaned us toward the $25 Pro plan for 2 GB, we’d all be paying $5 a month less to AT&T, which would translate into a real loss in revenue. Almost none of us is going to go over the 2GB, so there’s little or no chance that they’ll get that extra $10 out of us for going over 2GB.

So they capped that $15 plan exactly where they needed to in order to minimize their losses while still trying to generate goodwill about these changes. Smart business. 

But you’re not fooling me, AT&T. I’m moving to the Pro plan and saving myself the $5 every month, rather than taking the chance of maybe saving $15 once in a while when I don’t go over that 200MB limit.