AT&T To Throttle IPhone Data Use?

Posted: Oct 8 2009, 10:30am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 11 2010, 4:44pm CDT, in Mobile Phones


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If you're an iPhone owner, you might want to listen up right now. According to PC World, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega made some statements yesterday at the CTIA conference that could have a dire effect on your smartphone browsing. Vega complained that 40% of all smartphone data is used by just 3% of AT&T's smartphone customers. In other words, iPhone users are sucking up too much bandwidth.

He complained that, despite making up less then 1% of AT&T's customer base, iPhone users consume 13 times the data of the average smartphone user. The fact that iPhone users are able to do this much browsing in spite of AT&T's godawful network is nothing short of inspiring, but that's neither here nor there.

Vega complained that regular data users are going to be "crowded out" by these super-users. He then said something that could have dire ramifications for iPhone users everywhere (presuming everywhere is in the U.S.)

"We have to manage the network to make sure that the few cannot crowd out the many," Oh my. Let me translate that from CEO-speak to plain English.

"We're going to start capping data plans or vastly increasing the cost of unlimited data plans."

Sure, de la Vega didn't come right out and say that, but he didn't need to. There's only one thing that "managing the network" can possibly mean in this situation, and it doesn't bode well for iPhone users. AT&T has the right to stop allowing customers to purchase unlimited data plans, and they have the right to start forcing new customers/renegotiating customers to pay more for their data plans. But that won't stop people from getting pissed off.

If AT&T alters their data plans in such a way, it's sure to spark a consumer backlash. No one wants to pay more for the same amount of data, and iPhone users will see this as another reason to dislike AT&T. That's why, as PC World suggested, the carrier might take the sneaky way out and start lowering bandwidth after a certain amount of use.

Only time will tell just what tact ATT will eventually take, but one thing is clear; it won't benefit iPhone users one jot. You'd all better start hoping Verizon wins the bid to carry your smartphone-of-choice, otherwise you're going to have to get used to a very different browsing experience.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/5" rel="author">Robert Evans</a>
The excitement about new smartphones, tablets and anything mobile drive Robert to unearth the latest rumors and developments in this fast moving space. He adopted 4G as soon as it become available and knows where the mobile market is going.
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