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AT&T Subscriber? Gonna Need Some Vaseline

ky Am I the only one that feels that AT&T is doing us dirty? I mean, anyone looking at the headlines lately knows where the network is headed – except AT&T. It’s not news that AT&T has some serious infrastructure issues related to 3G access but that hasn’t led them to slow down at all. Instead, they’ve put their foot on the pedal and have decided to give away more bandwidth for less money.

Here’s what’s planned for AT&T in the coming months:


The iPad with 3G will be shipped and you can get 3G service for just $30/month. It’s off contract so you can turn it on only if you’re going to abuse it and, if you don’t plan on using it, you can turn off service and not pay for it. This is UNLIMITED in use so there is no cap (unlike other AT&T plans that have a ‘soft’ cap at 5gigs). And this is cheaper than a regular data plan for other devices. This is despite the fact that the iPad is geared for online web browsing and media and they’re trumpeting video streaming apps. Many of the major tv stations have released apps to stream their shows and of course, there’s the Netflix app that lets you stream unlimited movies over 3G to your iPad. AT&T thinks that not many iPad owners will use 3G or use a lot of it…you can’t really be sure because remember, they were shocked about the amount of data that the original iPhone consumed so you can expect them to be surprised again even though anyone with half a brain knows that if you have a media device on a cheap unlimited data plan users will whore it until the battery dies…then recharge and repeat. Oh don’t worry- the iPad will have an app to let you turn AT&T service on and off – it’s on their site already, so don’t expect users to be too lazy to turn off service. We’ll see what the sales figures are like, but later this month, in a single day, expect some six figure number of 3G devices to go live. You’ll know when it happens – just switch to Edge when it does cause it will be faster.

How serious is the iPad to AT&T"? The FCC said “With the iPad pointing to even greater demand for mobile broadband on the horizon, we must ensure that network congestion doesn’t choke off a service that consumers clearly find so appealing or frustrate mobile broadband’s ability to keep us competitive in the global broadband economy.” What does AT&T say about this? “We will monitor the usage as the device gets out there. If it turns out substantially different, we will adapt." What does adapt mean? It sounds like one of those plans to go into war and if it doesn’t go well, we’ll adapt.

Of course, in the next few months the iPhone HD (4G – whatever) will come out this summer and have a front facing camera to permit video calling. Let’s remember that AT&T’s network hasn’t been upgraded to 4G or grow at a pace to keep up with its current demand. And almost every HTC phone released in Europe and Asian markets have front facing cameras and when they get shipped to the US they get castrated because AT&T’s network cannot handle the bandwidth. Yet that won’t stop AT&T from carrying the iPhone HD with a front facing camera. A front facing camera should be sweet for Skype and VOIP – yup that’s pure data and you don’t pay AT&T for it like you do for a traditional phone/minutes plan. Of course, the same apps that come to the iPad, like Netflix, will be coming to the iPhone.  So here we go with AT&T giving additional service away (that they don’t have) without additional revenue.

It’s clear that AT&T itself is getting it from Steve Jobs who must be making some pretty lofty demands while threatening to release the rumored VZ iPhone sooner rather than later. I get it. And I’m all in favor of doing more with portable devices, but AT&T is literally selling itself out and those of us locked in to contracts are getting it hard here. 

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