AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph De La Vega is dropping big hints this week that AT&T may go through with extra charges for so-called bandwidth hogs.
"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..."
- Ralph De La Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, UBS Conference
De La Vega claims 3% of AT&T smartphone users (that is, iPhone) are responsible for 40% of all its wireless bandwidth usage.
I don't doubt it and we've heard it all before.
However, I think the lady doth protest to much.
Why should heavy bandwidth users be penalized? AT&T has actively marketed itself to be the provider of bandwidth hogs.
Case and point. See below:
What did they think they would get when they inked tens of millions of smartphone contracts? People don't set up an iPhone account only planning to use it for phone calls and texting.
Careful what you wish for, AT&T.
Wasn't it you who wanted to sell a bazillion iPhones with the exclusivity to keep them with you and no other carrier? You got it.
Wasn't it you who told us you could handle it with your bling-bling 3G network? Here we are taking you at your word!
Wasn't it you who seduced us with promises of unlimited tech candy in the form of streaming video, thousands and thousands of apps to choose from, music and games? Well. we bit!
Despite the recession, AT&T has had dramatic new subscriber growth for nine straight quarters. By its own admission, it gives the iPhone credit for much of it.
iPhone users skew a much higher monthly bill; around $95. 40% of those iPhone users are new to AT&T when they join.
In other words, and no news here, the iPhone has been a gold mine for AT&T.
It's not like iPhone and other smartphone users have come up with some nefarious way to beat AT&T's system. They are enjoying exactly what was marketed to them to get their business in the first place. It's no one's fault but AT&T's that they are getting hammered in the PR wars for way too much spotty coverage and their barely blue maps compared to Verizon's looks like a murder scene-red maps.
If you can't run with the big dogs, then don't get off the porch.