AT&T says you're using too much bandwidth! Bad you!


All you punks out there watching Internet video and downloading monkey porn had better stop! There’s a current 5 gigabyte cap on laptop data use right now but soon, friends, AT&T is going to close up that “unlimited” plan and hopes to educate the consumer on proper data use.

This, interestingly enough, is absolute bullshit. The idea that 5GB can be considered unlimited and that the punks at AT&T can’t handle “3 percent of users using 40 percent network capacity” is even bigger bullshit. Listen: mobile is how we’re going to be using the Internet in the next decade. The fact that AT&T can’t handle that and isn’t ready for it is highly disconcerting. Considering all the recent excitement about their call quality sucking, this can’t be good for the company.

People don’t need to be educated to use less data. They need to be educated as to which carrier can handle the coming mobile data glut.

AT&T responds.

There’s a 5 GB limit on Laptop Connect plans (you can use more, but are charged), but not on smartphone plans. Those are unlimited.

Also, we have announced no plans to make changes – here are two excepts from Ralph de la Vega’s talk yesterday, in response to a question about how the industry will deal with increasing data use. You can judge whether “soon, friends, AT&T *is* going to…” is too strong:

“But what we’re doing now is making sure that we do focus groups to understand what customers are doing and how customers are likely to behave in the future. And the interesting thing is that customers are not aware, fully aware, of how they are driving traffic and what constitutes high traffic or not. For example, when we do focus groups, some customers may think that because they have a lot of e-mail traffic, that causes a lot of data. That is not the case.

What’s driving usage on the network and driving these high usage situations are things like video, or audio that keeps playing around the clock. And so we’ve got to get to those customers and have them recognize that they need to change their pattern, or there will be other things that they are going to have to do to reduce their usage.”

“I think one of the first things that we need to do is we need to educate the customers. And it’s something that customers today have not been used to doing, so we’ve got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data.

And so what we’re doing now is we’re improving all of our systems so that we can begin to give customers real-time information about their data usage and begin to get customers educated. And I think longer-term, there’s got to be some sort of a pricing scheme that addresses the usage, but that’s going to be determined by industry competitive factors, regulatory factors and customer [successes]. So I can’t give you a prediction, other than our first area of focus is to get the information to the customers so they know their own patterns of usage.”