Thursday, October 08, 2009

AT&T to "Ration" iPhone Bandwidth? What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday, the big wireless news came from AT&T -- it had reversed course and agreed to permit Internet calling via Skype and other services across its network and on the iPhone. That drew a big smile from consumers, given that such news seemingly held the promise of reduced rate plans and exorbitant overage charges.

Well, not so fast -- iPhone users, just as you were basking in the glow of AT&T's new found benevolency, you may need to wipe that smile from your face. At yesterday's session at the annual CTIA conference in San Diego, AT&T Wireless' CEO Ralph de la Vega bemoaned the amazing growth of wireless broadband usage (5,000X in the last three years) and, in particular, bemoaned the significant data usage and multi-media (video in particular) habits of iPhone users (who make up about 3% of all of their wireless broadband users, but who consume 40% of all smart phone data).

And, he hinted -- in no uncertain terms -- that something needs to be done about this. Combined with his comments about "net neutrality" -- against it, not surprisingly -- it seems self-evident that AT&T has some kind of plan to "ration" bandwidth usage for AT&T mobile customers. None of the choices here are palatable for consumers -- read more here from PC Magazine's Mark Sullivan.

(And, read more here from my earlier post about Comcast's previous plan to "tier" Internet data usage amongst its customers -- i.e., anti-net neutrality and, in essence, pricing punishment for heavy users.)