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Tiered Data Plans Coming To the iPhone? 142

Posted by kdawson
from the too-good-to-last dept.
jfruhlinger writes "For years analysts have been insisting that Apple must introduce a cheaper iPhone, and soon. So, when Business Week heard that cheaper plans were coming, it reported the news in a positively giddy tone. But, I'm convinced that this is an under-the-radar move to shift to tiered data plans. Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."
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Tiered Data Plans Coming To the iPhone?

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  • economics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RMH101 (636144) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:10AM (#28009909)
    Crap. It's just simple economics: if you want to lower the monthly charge for a phone on contract, you up the charges for calls and data. In the UK, if you want an iPhone on contract, you're looking at 30UKP a month plus the subsidised cost of the handset: this is a not-inconsiderable monthly charge. They'd sell to a whole additional demographic if they could push it out at 15UKP a month with a nearly-all-you-can-eat plan, with costs for going over your allowance - hell, I'd probably buy it myself - my 600 minutes and 600 texts a month gets barely touched, although I use the data a lot.
    It would also give O2 a way of offloading all the surplus 3G iPhones cheap in advance of the latest model getting announced in June...
    • Re:economics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:01AM (#28010445)

      ...an iPhone on contract, you're looking at 30UKP a month plus the subsidised cost of the handset: this is a not-inconsiderable monthly charge. They'd sell to a whole additional demographic if they could push it out at 15UKP a month with a nearly-all-you-can-eat plan, with costs for going over your allowance... my 600 minutes and 600 texts a month gets barely touched

      You're a perfect example of why they don't do it, and why unlimited plans in general survive. You said it yourself, you'd spend half as much on a metered plan. You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%? That's pure profit; at half the price they'd need 3 or 4 customers to make the same profit because most of the first 15/mo would is "wasted" on, you know, providing service.

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        "You're a perfect example of why they don't do it, and why unlimited plans in general survive. You said it yourself, you'd spend half as much on a metered plan. You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%? That's pure profit; at half the price they'd need 3 or 4 customers to make the same profit because most of the first 15/mo would is "wasted" on, you know, providing service"
        Think about it. The sales of the iPhone 3G are probably slowing as they reach saturation point with
        • by jimicus (737525)

          Erm... what?!

          The iPhone is available right now in the UK free on a £35/month tariff. OK, it's only the 8GB model but the 16GB model is about £50.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            So, with taxes and fees, it costs about $2000 to have an iPhone for two years.

            Hey, that's practically free!

            • Re:economics (Score:4, Insightful)

              by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:27PM (#28013223) Homepage
              I'm not sure I understand this argument against the iPhone, as it's not specific to that product. If you get Sprint's "everything" plan, it's $99/mo, which is just shy of $1200/year or $2400 for two years. This is without taxes, and without the phone.

              The cheapest plan I've seen with unlimited data is Boost's $50/mo plan, but I don't think you can get a smartphone through Boost, so you're using a less advanced phone with a smaller screen and a telephone keypad for browsing the web, sending emails &c. And that's still $600/year, or $1200/2 years plus taxes, plus phone.

              Is there any smartphone/unlimited data phone/plan combination that's significantly less than the iPhone's plans? If the main difference is an extra couple of hundred dollars for the initial iPhone purchase, *that's* what you should be railing against, not the overall cost, which is really really similar between smartphone plans, IMLE.
              • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                Is there any smartphone/unlimited data phone/plan combination that's significantly less than the iPhone's plans

                Since I live in a big city where it's almost impossible to find a place where I can't get wi-fi, I'm thinking a wi-fi enabled PDA with a VOIP application (which eliminates the iPhone).

                Look, I don't think there's anything wrong with paying $2500 for an iPhone for two years if it's going to boost your self-esteem. It's just not for me.

                Plus, I think the heavy hand Apple has had with the app store mak

          • by RMH101 (636144)
            think about it. I paid 159ukp for a 16gb on launch. Plenty of other similar capacity phones of there for free at the time. It is only *now* that the 8gb one is free on contract, and this backs up my point that they're milking the 3g in advance of the new one coming out.
      • by rxmd (205533)

        You're a perfect example of why they don't do it, and why unlimited plans in general survive. You said it yourself, you'd spend half as much on a metered plan. You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%?

        Well then I'm a perfect examle of why they should do it. I was looking for a new contract at the time. If the carrier selling it over here had had a reasonable plan, I would have changed to them. Instead I picked up a used iPhone for less than it would have cost new and use it with plan from a different carrier that fits my need. The only disadvantage is that I don't have warranty on my phone because I had to jailbreak and unlock it. The warranty, however, would have been close to expiry now anyway, an

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        You think that's what they want, for revenue from you to decrease by 50%?

        Note the subtle shift away from what the consumer wants to what the corporation wants.

        The "3 or 4 customers" that it would take, would bring market share, which over the long run brings profit. But they don't look at the long run, because they want to make the biggest hit right now. Then, when someone brings along a technology that does it cheaper this same short-sighted company is going to engage in anti-competitive actions to block

        • After enough of these cycles, we have consumers who become so beaten down that they worry more about the welfare of the company than their own interests.

          Sounds kind of like the Stockholm Syndrome [wikipedia.org], doesn't it?

      • You're a perfect example of why they don't do it

        Sure, because any company would give up adding 3x the sales to people that would never buy the most expensive plan anyway, while still keeping most of the people on the more expensive plan who just want unlimited data...

        It's simple math (and economics), if you can add a ton of customers it doesn't matter if you are collecting less per customer.

    • Re:economics (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcvos (645701) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:02AM (#28010457)

      I'm really surprised to read that an iPhone subscription in the US costs $70 per month. Do people really buy iPhones at that cost? I'm paying EUR 30 per month, and although the euro is worth more than the dollar nowadays, it's not that much more. $70 is hideously expensive, and $70 without thethering is just criminal.

      I'm glad to see a tech gadget cheaper in Netherland than in the US though. Must have been a first.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As one who moved from the Netherlands to the US, I can say that not only are all plans twice as expensive, the call quality is half as good.

        Back home, my only phone had been a cell phone for the last 8 years. Here in Chicago, it can't fully replace the old wired phone due to dropped calls and crippling quality of the cell phone network.

        Don't get me wrong, it is not like it is unusable, but it definitely isn't perfect either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jasen666 (88727)

        No. I have an iPhone on T-Mobile. My dataplan is an an extra $20 on top of my normal rate. I don't use many minutes, so have a cheap plan to start with, so my total monthly is around $50.

      • by nelsonal (549144)
        That usually includes national long distance and several thousand minutes a month. Normal cell plans generally cost $40-$50/mo here (you pay for incoming calls but get lots of outgoing calls in your plan). What would a plan in Netherlands cost that included 2000 minutes of calls to any other Eurozone number plus unlimited data and unmetered evening weekend calls to any Eurozone number?
        • Trust me, nobody in the US is getting long distance and several thousand minutes a month for $70 a month in the US. My wife and I's combined account, with a data plan for each phone (hers is an iPhone), 700 minutes, with rollover, unlimited nights and weekends, and messaging, is $170 a month after taxes.
          • My wife gets unlimited Internet and texts, unlimited off-peak minutes, and 1500 peak minutes for $50/month (plus taxes). She can tether the phone, either through USB or over Bluetooth/WiFi, and share out the 3G connection. The throughput is usually around 1500/800. This is on Sprint.

        • by mcvos (645701)

          That usually includes national long distance and several thousand minutes a month.

          Several thousand? I never use more than a hundred. I believe there are more expensive iPhone subscriptions here that give you more minutes and more SMSs, but I really don't need that.

          Normal cell plans generally cost $40-$50/mo here (you pay for incoming calls but get lots of outgoing calls in your plan). What would a plan in Netherlands cost that included 2000 minutes of calls to any other Eurozone number plus unlimited data and unmetered evening weekend calls to any Eurozone number?

          The difference between the whole US and a single EU country is a really good point. When I call abroad, I pay extra. When I am abroad, I pay extra for both calls and data. International connectivity of EU phone networks is absolutely horrible. So basically a Dutch subscription would be comparable to a subscription where you had

          • by nelsonal (549144)
            I over estimated the peak time minutes. It's more like 500-1000 depending on the other features you get. Evenings (usually 9 pm to 7 am) and weekends are generally free. Many plans will add calls within their network and some include a selection of numbers with unlimited minutes for a small surcharge making plans with a small number of minutes a decent deal. My $50/mo (before about 10 in taxes) plan is ostensibly a 300 minute/month plan but because of in network calling, evenings, weekends, and 5 free
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "I'm really surprised to read that an iPhone subscription in the US costs $70 per month. "

        Actually, I'm thinking of switching to save money...my current plan is starting to creep over $99/mo. I don't have texting on the current plan from Sprint...and it is starting to cost me as me and my friends are starting to use it more.

        Yeah, the tethering things sucks on the iPhone, but, I understand there are ways around out.

        But, to me, if I could get the iPhone with unlimited data and texting for the ballpark $80

      • by Brandee07 (964634)

        My iPhone was added to a pre-existing family plan (550 minutes), not the minimum-level iPhone plan:

        $50 First Line (iPhone)
        $30 Unlimited Data (iPhone)
        $10 Second Line (Cheap-ass handset)*
        $15 Unlimited Texts (Cheap-ass handset)*
        ---
        $105 + taxes and stuff

        Total: $101/mo**, for two phones.

        *Second line used by little brother and his BFF Jill. He pays me $45/mo for his share.

        **My math doesn't suck (that badly). I have a 15% discount from my University of Maryland Alumni affliation, which I actually had to

      • My iPhone costs me $87.91 a month after all the taxes. I barely use 200 of my 400 minutes of call time a month. Only about 150 of my 5000 night/weekend minutes and average about 150 texts per month. On an average month, I use about 500MB of data bandwidth, a little more if I am in an area with 3G. (still edge where I reside most of the time).

        I'm the COO and still the lead developer for our online services. We're to the point where I am no longer doing most of the day to day development work, but I stil

    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:30PM (#28015089)

      hell, I'd probably buy it myself - my 600 minutes and 600 texts a month gets barely touched, although I use the data a lot.

      Hey, does anybody besides me realize that a cell phone company who charged on a "point" system would probably have customers flocking to them?

      You buy a given amount of points per month. A text message costs the minimum 1 point. 3 points/minute for calls on prime time, 1 point/minute nights and weekends. 2 points/mb data prime time, 1 point/mb data nights/weekends. Buy your points and spend them as you like to meet your own needs. It could be a great deal on both sides.

    • I have all you can use data and it's not on an iPhone and I actually pay less than some of the iPhone users I know with their iPlans. I have unlimited data, unlimited text messaging, and unlimited minutes. I get that for $99.00 a month from my current carrier. Yes, there is an iPlan for that amount but you have to pay extra for unlimited text messages (another $20/month) whereas mine is included. And the voice dialing is extra ($5/month) whereas mine is also included.

      Since more than one carrier is offer

  • "Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."

    I'm pretty sure the consumers will figure out this tiered data plan scheme trying to nickel and dime them. I'm betting we'll have our unlimited data plans for as long as we have had in
    • Just like consumers have figured out that it doesn't really cost the carriers $0.25 to send and receive each text message?

  • by Norsefire (1494323) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:14AM (#28009941) Journal

    Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."

    In New Zealand on our iPhone plans [vodafone.co.nz],

    • the most expensive, $130/month, gets us 500MB.
    • The cheapest, $40/month, gets us 250MB.

    All only available on a 24 month contract. My heart bleeds you for America.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Try the iphone costs in different parts of the word. the world.
      http://www.numbersinaflash.com/ [numbersinaflash.com]
      eg Top 10 Australian* iPhone Plan Calculator
      Watch the monthly and total contract zoom up :)
      *Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Telecommunications.
      • by iCEBaLM (34905)

        Something's wrong with this calculator, I plugged in my Canadian plan and it gave me a monthly of $120 CDN, I only pay $85.

    • Damn. Vodafone in NZ sucks. Even with the $130/month, you only get 250 anytime minutes?

      I don't have any iPhone (nor will I get one since I refuse to use AT&T's price-jacked service with spotty coverage), but I have 3 phones with 800 anytime minutes shared between them, unlimited text and unlimited data for less than that price. I paid $0 for my phone, an LG Rumor messaging phone, and I think my wife paid only $50 after discounts and rebates for her phone (same one, but she got it when it first came o

    • Everyone who loves their all-you-can-eat iPhone data: enjoy it while it lasts."

      In New Zealand on our iPhone plans [vodafone.co.nz],

      • the most expensive, $130/month, gets us 500MB.
      • The cheapest, $40/month, gets us 250MB.

      All only available on a 24 month contract. My heart bleeds you for America.

      I think I speak for all Canadian cell phone users when I say that you Kiwis have it really good, relative to us, of course.

      Here's an example:

      http://your.rogers.com/business/wireless/plans_services/business_plans.asp?plan=dataservice&cat=2&typ=2 [rogers.com]

    • You can get the iPhone unsubsidised on Prepay. Then you can get 100MB a month with Broadband Lite for NZD$10 a month on top of however much you spend on Prepay. They just don't make this option obvious on their site, for obvious reasons. 100MB a month is enough for me. I don't actually want to use that much data, but I do want the speed. I'll probably end up spending NZD$15 a month, which is much more reasonable than NZD$40 -- no way would I ever pay that much.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:29AM (#28010067) Journal
    In observing iPhone users of my acquaintance, and in my vicinity, I've gotten the impression that one of the things that separates it from the touch, in their perception and use, is the "always connected" aspect of it. The being able to use the internet and internet related applications more or less without thinking about it, unlike the touch, where you have to be near a friendly AP.

    Given that, I'd be very curious to see how it would fare under a limited data plan. Having to think about the data you are using really crimps the casual and spontaneous nature of the use(just as, when I was on dialup, "being online" was a separate state from "being on the computer" even though the dial-in process only took a couple of minutes, tops. Once I got broadband, even crap DSL, the two became more or less synonymous). If there is a large population that just wants an iPhone for music and/or status, then this should be well recieved. It should also be popular, assuming the price is low enough, with anybody who currently has a touch and a carrier throwaway handset and wants to consolidate.

    Outside of those populations, though, an iPhone on a limited data plan seems rather unattractive. Strictly as a phone, the iPhone is merely OK, and pretty damn expensive for what you get. The charm is in what it can do with a data connection. Having to look over your shoulder at your usage all the time would seem to render that less attractive.
    • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:44AM (#28010227)

      Unless the tiers are pretty low, it may not impact most users.

      I just checked -- in the time since I had my iPhone replaced when the battery blew up (end of last August) I've transferred 1.1GB over cellular down, under 100MB up. I use it constantly for "normal" sort of stuff -- Pandora in my car once or twice a week, lots of e-mail. Lots of web surfing. Maybe 20% of the time I update or install apps when I'm not on WiFi.

      That's barely 150MB of downstream transfer a month. There may be power users who use vastly more, but they probably should be paying vastly more. Even a 500MB or 1GB cap per month would be more than enough for the majority of users, I'd bet.

      Hell, looking at my usage, a pay-per-minute phone plan and a 500MB per month cap would be fantastic if it cut my bill in half. I've got almost 5000 rollover minutes built up because of less than 50 minutes of month of voice usage. I hate being stuck on high voice usage / "unlimited" data plans.

      • by garcia (6573)

        I just checked my usage (I don't tether and I don't consider myself a heavy user, at least not compared to what I did with my T-mobile Sidekick) and I have over 400MB of data usage in the last 16 days. If they move to tiers, I'd drop this thing like a hot potato.

      • by Dynedain (141758)

        Pandora in my car once or twice a week...

        Congratulations, you will be considered a "power user".

    • by alen (225700)

      most people who want an iphone already have one.

      unlike PC's people will gladly buy 2 year old cell phones. these are the ones that the carriers give away for "free". as the iphone gets ready to launch it's 3rd gen hardware and software Apple and AT&T are probably going to give away 8GB 3G iphones for free with cheaper data plans to capture the low end of the market.

      with NPAC and number portability it became easy to switch phones and carriers and keep your number. The next wave in cell phones is carrying

    • by trawg (308495)

      Given that, I'd be very curious to see how it would fare under a limited data plan. Having to think about the data you are using really crimps the casual and spontaneous nature of the use(just as, when I was on dialup, "being online" was a separate state from "being on the computer" even though the dial-in process only took a couple of minutes, tops.

      As always, Australia is ahead of the game with data limits!

      My brother has an iPhone with a 200 (or 250 - can't remember) MB data limit. I think its AUD$49 a month; excess fees look like they're AUD$0.35 / MB.

      He uses it all the time; never worries about using it, and never comes close to using 200GB of data. Seriously, you'd have to be really, really whaling on it more than he does to use more than 200GB of data a month (unless you were tethering and using it on your PC).

      I don't really know how 3G works bu

      • by mobby_6kl (668092)

        I'm glad Vodafone here offers tiered data plans. I get 100MB/month for around 8 bucks, and that's more than enough for mail, RSS, maps, chatting, light browsing, some online radio or a few youtube videos. Going over the limit doesn't cost me anything, but the network is supposed to be throttled, though it never happened to me.

        They also have an unlimited (== throttled after 3GB) plan for about $32, and a flexible one which scales from $8-37 depending on your monthly usage. With this one, I'd normally pay wha

    • by Lally Singh (3427)

      I don't think it'll change that feeling much. I use maybe 25mb a month on data, probably peaking (when traveling) at 50. I don't really care about streaming video or music, just a few web pages and google maps. Mobile optimization for the former and caching for the latter keeps that number from going up very much.

    • "Having to look over your shoulder at your usage all the time would seem to render that less attractive."

      And this is precisely why I have not bought an iPhone yet. Being in Canada, I have to deal with Rogers' plans which are quite limited and, if I'm going to spend a stupid amount of money on a smart phone, I want to be able to use it's internet capabilities without ever worrying about how much data is being transmitted. Unless and until Rogers changes that (or another option becomes available that lacks
    • by horatio (127595) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:08AM (#28010519)
      Here's my issue with the idea that AT&T is complaining the iPhone is using too much data, so they have to scrap the unlimited data plan. Said "unlimited" data plan is already limited - just not in a strictly by-the-numbers bandwidth fashion. There are several things I know of that I'm not permitted to do while on the 3G network:
      • Apps > 10MB have to be done on the desktop version of iTunes, or over wifi.
      • The (new) slingplayer app only works on wifi (would have been useful to know BEFORE paying $30 for the app. Do the WinCE/crackberry versions have this restriction?)
      • Podcasts are limited to to those which the iPhone allows. You can subscribe in iTunes and sync, but you can't download podcasts > 10MB on 3G.
      • I'm sure the lack of flash is about Apple exerting control over the platform, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was also about bandwidth.

      I'm not suggesting that the iPhone should be a platform for fetching the latest Ubuntu ISO on the 3G network. But for AT&T to play like iPhone users have unlimited options to use as much bw as they like is just not reality.

      • Well I just think it's silly to provide a data network and then complain that your customers are using it too much. What if your cable company complained you were watching too much TV? Or your landlord complained that you were in your apartment too much?

        If you can't provide the service, then get out of that business and leave it to someone who can. But no, that's not the problem. They're looking for a PR excuse to raise prices, or maybe a government bailout.

        But you're right, the whole complaint is mad

        • by tepples (727027)

          What if your cable company complained you were watching too much TV?

          Cable TV channels are a broadcast medium: everybody gets all the bits, and subscribers get the decryption keys. Internet access, on the other hand, is as if every single show were on demand.

          Or your landlord complained that you were in your apartment too much?

          That's dedicated. There's no expectation of overselling because you're expected to be in your apartment all night. Home Internet access, on the other hand, assumes the bursty nature of web surfing.

      • The (new) slingplayer app only works on wifi (would have been useful to know BEFORE paying $30 for the app. Do the WinCE/crackberry versions have this restriction?)

        No, the other versions don't. The information was available before release, but I'm not sure how widely disseminated (nor what the app page says).

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      In observing iPhone users of my acquaintance, and in my vicinity, I've gotten the impression that one of the things that separates it from the touch, in their perception and use, is the "always connected" aspect of it. The being able to use the internet and internet related applications more or less without thinking about it, unlike the touch, where you have to be near a friendly AP.

      Every phone these days is "always connected" (it's been years since we got rid of WAP). The only issue is the cost, but just b

  • by Scyber (539694) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:31AM (#28010085)
    I'm grandfathered into an unlimited 3G Data & SMS plan for $20/month. Now they have a tendency to call me and leave voicemails when I use too much data (telling me that I must "upgrade" to a different plan). But I just never call them back and don't run into an issue.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      AT&T has been doing that to my mom ever since they changed from AT&T, Cingular and then back to AT&T... Seems my mom was in contract(with automatic renew) for $40.00 a month for 1500 mins. needless to say they wont upgrade her phone, wont help her out without forcing her to make a new contract for less mins (450). Good Bless her she wont.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by bkaul (1235970)
        AT&T phones use SIM cards. You can pop your card into an unlocked phone that you buy somewhere other than an AT&T store with no problem - no new activation required. (I'm actually using an HP iPAQ 614c, which isn't even sold in the US.) You only need to cave and sign the new contract if you want them to subsidize your phone.
    • by park3r (833325)
      That's interesting. I had a $15/month MediaNet unlimited data plan, but when I bought an iPhone 3G, they forced me to upgrade to the newer $30/month data plan. They wouldn't have sold me the phone otherwise. But then, I never get calls about using too much data, even when tethering on the road.
    • And you wonder why they won't let you use your existing plan? :)
    • by dogzilla (83896)

      How much data do you use? I've been wondering how far you can go before they start complaining.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Scyber (539694)
        I never tracked it precisely, but after getting the calls I checked my usage and every time it was over 1GB for the month. I used to use the phone tethered to my laptop during my commute (90 minute each way). I no longer have such a long commute, so I don't use nearly as much data.
  • by Bicx (1042846) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:31AM (#28010087)
    ...I use my wife's iPhone to scrape ice off the windshield.

    It felt good to get that off my chest.
  • Where a huge telco dumbed down a generation into believing every packet up and down is sacred.
    Dont let this start, rage against the AT&T and Apple.
    Expose the greed and lock in.
    This should make every US phone user think: "They are doing this so they can get rid of older accounts which are truly unlimited"
    After caps are in the only way to get a "deal" is to buy more services from the same company.
    Find your inner "AT&T and Me" or "Apple and Me" (ie. Roger & Me), upload to any flash video sit
  • As far as I'm concerned the "product" of the iPhone includes unlimited internet access, because that was one of the advertised features. Removing that feature would be no different than, say, removing the ability to receive incoming calls.

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:01AM (#28010439)
      As long as they make this plan change after your initial term is up, it isn't a bait and switch - no one is forced to provide the same service indefinitely, especially when the original contract has expired.
    • The iPhone 'product' is a hardware device, produced by Apple. You purchase it outright for cash in a one-time transaction.

      Internet access (unlimited or otherwise), as well as 'the ability to receive (or make) calls' are services provided by a telecom company, which you pay an ongoing monthly fee for.

      For the most part, when you buy the hardware device you are also forced to subscribe to the service from (a particular) telecom company.

      You sound like you are 'all for' forced bundling of the two, as opposed to

      • by Andy Smith (55346)

        "The iPhone 'product' is a hardware device, produced by Apple. You purchase it outright for cash in a one-time transaction."

        Incorrect. Most iPhone users in this country (UK) have their phones as part of a locked-in contract, either 18 months or 24 months. The phones have recently begun being sold for use on O2's pay-as-you-go service, but the majority of people are under contract.

  • by fermion (181285) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @08:38AM (#28010157) Homepage Journal
    What has happened so far is that ATT charged for new featured. When it went to 3G, text messages were no longer included. What is the next feature users want? tethering. A laptop will use more bandwidth, so this is likely going to be another plan. Ideally there will be a cheaper plan for users who want a cheaper plan. Then there is the feature that many want, which in the US is availability through Verizon, which allegedly did not want Apple to control the platform. It seems reasonable that if Verizon gets an iphone like device, it will set the plan as it wishes.

    Beyond this I do not see tiers. Most cell companies do not seem to be moving in this direction.

  • I still have and love my Gen 1 Edge iPhone. I'm paying the $20/month unlimited data INCLUDING the 200 free texts. There's NO WAY they'll get me to pay MORE to have the same plan on a new phone... I'm about 20 months in since purchase and have not reset my usage stats. I'm 1.8GB in, and that's over Edge! (plus another 200MB uploaded) ...and I only really started using Pandora heavily about 4 months ago, so although my average pings in at about 100MB/month, I'm likely averaging closer to 200MB currently.

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      I'm in the same boat, but remember that you paid an extra $300 up front which is $12.50/month. The 3G isn't that much faster in real life use (processor and memory control a number of things), and it ends up on Edge often enough (in Los Angeles!) that the other benefits are minimal.

      I contemplate moving back to a Blackberry for improved flexibility and better plans! The iPhone may be a premium product, but AT&T's service is by no means a premium offering.

      I hope the telcos do some serious soul-searching

  • Rollover data (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Algan (20532) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:00AM (#28010427)

    What I would like to see is rollover data. Right now I'm paying $30/mo for an "Unlimited" data plan (which is really just 5GB/mo). My average cellular data usage is around 60-70MB/mo. 95% of my time is spent in places that have wifi coverage. If they would offer a 100MB plan for $10/mo with rollover data I'd be on it in a heartbeat.

  • a crap story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cornercuttin (1199799) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:02AM (#28010455) Homepage
    "For years analysts have been insisting that Apple must introduce a cheaper iPhone, and soon.

    i'm not going to read this story based upon the above quote. the iphone has been out for almost 2 years. you don't get to use the phrase "for years" when talking about something that technically isn't 2 years old. this is an attempt to make this story a bigger deal than what it really is.
  • Their plans beat anything that AT&T can offer, and they are soon to offer the IPhone, so AT&T is going to lose a slew of customers over this.
  • is if enough users track data usage - easy enough to do with an iPhone and discover a lower capped plan is cheaper then ATT will lose revenue - the question is will they get enough additional subscribers to make up for the loss? Also, will they increase the contract length if you switch plans?
  • A plus side to the death of unlimited data plans would be the ability to use your data plan for anything.

    Want to use Skype? Bittorrent? Tether to your laptop? Go for it. It's your data.

    There's no "abuse" when you're the one paying for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pitr (33016)

      That only works if you assume that "logic", "fair use" and "common sense" are at play here. i.e. I paid for and own my cell phone so I can unlock it and do what I want with it right? (I'm in Canada, so actually I can, but not so much in the US, your mileage may vary by state)

      Point being, if you pay for data, it shouldn't matter how that data is used, period. It shouldn't even matter on unlimited plans. Data is data. Everyone here on slashdot understands it, as do the providers, but why not gouge the con

      • by feepness (543479)
        When you say gouge, do you mean cellular company profit margins are out of line with other businesses?
  • Why do 3G data plans cost this much? Why are providers fighting to drop unlimited data plans whenever they've existed to go back to tiered models?

    I was looking into purchasing a 3G data card to use as my primary Internet connection, since I primarily use a laptop anyway and frequently am traveling or otherwise on the road.

    Verizon: $59.99/mo for 5GB (or $199.99/mo for 10GB, which is only available by request and not advertised.)
    AT&T: $59.99/mo for 5GB
    Sprint: $59.99/mo for 5GB
    T-Mobile: Had trouble finding

    • It costs that much because you basically are getting unrestricted access to to a finite network because they have no control over what you can load on your laptop.

      The cell networks are not only of a lower capacity than regular networks but you are basically sharing network nodes much like the old days of cable where you would have only a few nodes for a large area and everyone would get bogged down.

      What do you suggest they do? Cellphone towers can only be built up to a certain density and there is no wa

    • by feepness (543479)
      Interesting. I have an unlimited data plan I got last year. I tether my phone to my laptop and can use it anywhere.

      I've never used over 5GB but the plan only costs me $15/month.
  • The first one is always free. Get people used to the device, then start squeezing them.

  • Tiered data plans are no surprise at all, since Apple is supposed to release tethering capabilities with the new iPhone firmware. The average net usage on an iPhone is substantially lower than that of almost any laptop user and like it or not, AT&T will charge more... a LOT more. Heh.

    I agree with tiered pricing, in a sense. People who check their email 3 times a week and look for coupons occasionally shouldn't pay as much as the guy next door downloading 1080p movies from Bittorrent. However, the amoun
  • >> For years analysts have been insisting that Apple must introduce a cheaper iPhone...

    Seems an excessive statment given iPhone first went on sale less than a year and a half ago.

  • The unlocked Nokia E70 I had prior to getting my iPhone was really a better device for about the same price. It had wifi, a built in SIP client and I could tether to my laptop with Bluetooth so that I could access the Internet from anywhere on a device actually intended to access the Internet. I had it set up to connect to my home wifi and register as a SIP device with my asterisk server there, so I could use the same handset for both landline calls and cell calls. It wouldn't have taken a lot more effort t
  • Everybody knows that the "Unlimited" plan is limited to 5GB a month.

    So why are ya bitching?

  • For $30/month all in I get unlimited Internet, texts, off-peak minutes, and 500 peak minutes. I suspect its far cheaper rates is part of the reason why Sprint is doing so poorly and AT&T is doing so well.

    In the last conference call, the AT&T execs were quite proud of the fact that the typical Apple user on their network paid over 2x the industry standard "ARPU" (average revenue per unit). I'd guess AT&T is willing to push this a little, squeeze the Apple base, and see if it can push the ARPU up

  • All you can eat except for SlingBox, BitTorrent, tethering... - and anything else AT&T decides not to like today.

    There is no competition in the iPhone market, so don't expect any changes to be doing anything to reduce AT&T's profits.

    In fact, the only iPhone competition is the Palm Pre.

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