AT&T Talks Of Usage Based Data Charges - InformationWeek

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3/4/2010
12:14 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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AT&T Talks Of Usage Based Data Charges

AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson said in an analyst conference on Tuesday that he thought the wireless in industry is headed towards a usage based billing system where those consuming more data will have higher bills than those using less data. Time to say goodbye to the all-you-can-eat data plans.

AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson said in an analyst conference on Tuesday that he thought the wireless in industry is headed towards a usage based billing system where those consuming more data will have higher bills than those using less data. Time to say goodbye to the all-you-can-eat data plans.I am not sure who introduced unlimited data but I remember sometime between 2003 and 2005 upgrading my $9.99 10MB data plan with T-Mobile to a $19.99 unlimited plan just hours after they announced it. Of course back then GPRS was cutting edge and it ran at 56kbps as long as cloud cover and humidity were just right. You could let it run 24-7 all month and still not download what some users do during normal hours with a 3G connection.

Some devices already have data brackets. Verizon's MiFi limits you to 250MB for $39.99 or 5GB for $59.99. The smaller plan pretty much limits you to light internet browsing and email. Go beyond 5GB and they ding you a 5¢ per megabyte.

AT&T's CEO had previously said they were looking for ways to incentivise consumers to use less data according to the Fierce Wireless article.

My preference would be that they continue to explore new technologies to handle the ever increasing demand for bandwidth rather than figure out ways to slow users down. Whatever they do I hope they don't go with a variable rate plan where you are charged per MB. Many people would be so worried about how much that click would cost how much it would cost to send this attachment it would destroy any enjoyment of being online. It was like being at Disney World when they sold tickets for each ride. The kids just want to have fun and dad kept running the totals in his head at each ticket stand. Better to pay $100 at the gate and put it out of your mind for the rest of the day.

That said, in ten years we'll be laughing at the slow speeds and relatively low bandwidth limits we have today and this will all seem as foolish as the man-made global warming hysteria of, uhm, last fall. Let's hope the accountants get out of the way and let the innovators loose. Otherwise, the most popular apps in phone application stores will be bandwidth meters, and that'll be sad.

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