Why AT&T’s Latest Move Will Curb the New iPhone 4G’s Strengths

So AT&T does it again. While I harbor no ill feelings toward the company. I don’t understand why they continue to choke the life out of a wonderfully capable product like the iPhone on their network. Their latest offense was just announced: iPhone tethering will come at a (highly regulated) $20 a month premium.

I say highly regulated because they are charging you $20 for 2 Gigabytes of data a month and $10 for every Gigabyte afterwards.

AT&T said that 2 GB of data is “enough to send/receive 10,000 e-mails (no attachments), plus send/receive 1,500 e-mails with attachments, plus view 4,000 Web pages, plus post 500  photos to social media sites, plus watch 200 minutes of streaming video.”

Additionally, they said that “98 percent of AT&T smart phone customers use less than 2 GB of data a month on average”.

Okay I have all kinds of questions and issues with some of the above statements:

1. All the numbers they’re spitting out, like 4,000 web pages, does include dynamic sites and pages that use things like Flash and Silverlight? Also, the phone is rumored to feature video chat capabilities. How much average data per call will that use?

2. I’m willing to bet that’s 200 minutes of extremely crappy or very short (under 2 minutes) streamed video because a streamed video of any decent length or quality will set you back starting at 20-30 Megabytes a video. That’s not counting all of the Hulu and tv episode watchers out there. We won’t even begin to talk about Netflix downloads…

3. Don’t they think 98 Percent of their smart phone customers use less than 2 Gigs because none of them are really tethering yet? Seriously. The ones that are tethering on AT&T (aka jailbroken iPhone tethering users), are probably in that 2% that are over.

4. Reading forum posts about a popular tethering app, I’ve read that many people try to stay below 10 Gigs of data for the month. If that’s true, at $10 a Gig, who would want to pay that?

People use their current internet connection because it is unbridled and allows them to do what they need to to online, when they need to do it. The only reason I could see AT&T charging essentially $10 per Gigabyte is because if they priced it more reasonably, like Sprint’s $10 unlimited tethering charge for their new EVO 4G, it would expose further limitations to their already troubled data network. It’s no secret that the iphone has put data demands on their network that has in the past caused serious connection and reception issues.  Maybe this is their way of trying to prevent any further network issues?

Regardless of what their reasoning behind the data cap, bottom line, this strategy is taking strength away from the strength of the latest iPhone. It’s also taking away from the ability to make the device the only one needed for mobile and internet communication (other than your laptop of course). Some may even go as far to say that 2 Gigs is a rip-off in such a data rich mobile world.

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