AT&T Ready to Improve Service in New York and San Francisco -- Just Don't Use that Unlimited Data

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AT&T is finally opening up and coming clean about their sub par service that is offered in areas of New York and San Francisco. Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T Mobility, recently spoke at a investors conference regarding the poor service.

“This is going to get fixed, in both of those markets, I am very confident that you’re going to see significant progress.”

Obviously this is good news for those of you in these areas. Worse news? AT&T might use "unlimited" to sell you your data plan, but they obviously don't intend for you to use it. And if you do, watch out.

Wireless data hogs who jam the airwaves by watching video on their iPhones will be put on tighter leashes.

Video. The horror! Perhaps AT&T should just ditch the "unlimited" pretense, mark it as the 5GBs they really mean it to be, and then let us do what we want with it -- like tether.

If one stops to think about the other carriers getting more attractive smartphone options and the fact that AT&T's iPhone exclusivity is running thin... AT&T better get to work and fast.

[Thanks to the Reptile for the tip!]

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Jeremy

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Reader comments

AT&T Ready to Improve Service in New York and San Francisco -- Just Don't Use that Unlimited Data

44 Comments

Odds are they'll start tracking people who are tethering and shut them down, not get rid of their unlimited data for smartphones. That would be a huge blow to their business, and they're not stupid. Don't stress too hard about it.

I agree with AT&T, why should people who only use a few hundred meg per month of bandwidth pay the same fee as people who use gigs?

Don't worry the iphone will be at Verizon in the next year. Although the data Network might not be quite as fast you will have LTE coverage everywhere when it is released.

I think if AT&T gets rid of their unlimited data they will also get rid of a lot of customers. People like me who have the iPhone would switch carriers and be just as happy with a Droid. It would be a pretty dumb move for the carrier and I think their business would suffer as a result. Oh well. Just have to sit back and see what happens.

@George:
"I agree with AT&T, why should people who only use a few hundred meg per month of bandwidth pay the same fee as people who use gigs?"
I guess you're referring to the AT&T that didn't already get you to agree to pay in fact the same fee for a few hundred MB per month as those who use a few GB per month.
I've said before several times. AT&T has basic problems with its network that arose from overselling its network capacity and underestimating the potential network traffic associated with the iPhone 3G by an order of magnitude. They have not been straightforward about those problems at all, while they have been collecting millions of dollars from its iPhone users.
The best thing that can happen to the iPhone platform in the U.S. is to stop its carrier exclusivity. Doing so would probably double the number of iPhone owners in a very short time, and the carriers would then have to compete to offer the best network support for the iPhone.

Wow, ATT owes a significant amount of their new contracts to the iPhone and yet they cant beef up their network enough to save the one thing they have going for them right now??

And if they do restrict the data I myself will sue do to breach of contract that I signed, I doubt I'll be the only one either, it's time for us as "loyal" AT&T customers to stand up for our rights, they will cut your service if you don't pay, but they think they can treat you like crap, however, they are very wrong, you AT&T have been warned

@Kevin, Sure I'll buy a new phone, let the bugs get worked out first. LTE is pretty much 4g and is said to be released 2nd QTR of '10 and the iphone should be ready to go as soon as LTE is ready. Why would they launch LTE without a cool new phone? And with iphones exclusivity coming to an end.

I personally think if they were to get rid of unlimited I would Switch to a Carrier that offers unlimited data. Unlimited data is one of AT&T's most popular plans. They would be stupid if they change their rates on the plans. They are going to loose so much customers if that happens. They should work on gettin the new LTE up and not worry about rate plans. Otherwise I'll be friends with Verzion and abandon AT&T and I've been with them before they were Cingular. Good day all!

Don’t worry the iphone will be at Verizon in the next year.

Yeah, because we know Verizon's unlimited data plan is really unlimited. No US carrier is going to give you an unlimited pipe. You may see it down the line, but it will cost you, big time.

I work throughout the 4 of 5 boros in NYC.. and even before the iPhone 3g launched last year, I was STILL averaging 3 dropped calls a day with my first gen iPhone.
AT&T cannot exclusively blame 3g data hogs for their problems in NYC- the problem pre-existed back from the iPhone launch and probably just got worse as more and more consumers jumped onto the iPhone.
It's simply inexcusable to live in the biggest city in the world and have the amount of dropped calls that I have, daily.
As simple as crossing a bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn or from the Bronx to Queens, you WILL experience a drop call.
I've placed numerous complaints to customer service. Obviously, to this day the problems still exist.
I love my iPhone, I HATE AT&T.

I agree with ATT on this one, if you use gigs of data you should pay more than someone who uses less than 1 gig. Id love to pay $15 for 1 gig rather than $30 for data I dont use. Keep charging the 2-3 gig+ people $30 and tier the higher users over 4 gigs to $45. In this economy people will curb their data usage if they can pay less by using less. This will help the network load in the long run.

"AT&T cannot exclusively blame 3g data hogs for their problems"
Sure they can. If you understand how ATT's GSM/HSPA networks works then it has everything to do with 3G. Unlike CDMA, voice and data run over the same channel on GSM/HSPA. Therefore, the more 3g data the more clogged the voice channels. Its directly relative.

i stream Sirius radio over 3g at work and Pandora radio while i commute, and just 1 hour of streaming sirius is about 60-70 megs of data, that is about 1 gig a week of data streaming if i listen to Sirius 3-4 hours a day.
I want to get the most out of my data plan so i have no issue using 4-6 gigs each month. this is one of the main reasons i bought the iphone.
Should i be paying less to my Cable TV provider if i watch 10 hours of TV, versus someone who watches 100 hours of TV each month?

Why in the world att is not capable of offering a decent stable service will all their incomes. There are tons of wireless internet compnies that offers faster bandwitch/ speed for even less than 30$/month and are able to success. As u said they are money hungry and theres no interest of innovation anywhere in the company

VZW does, I have the $30 plan, Im online, google maps, stream youtube, Pandora every morning, and a Scanner app to stream police frequencys. Ive used 302MB in 10 days. Why dont you guys come over to the red side! lol

@hqh
Your time will come sir.. eventually.. if things stay on this pace.. Verizon will change also.. The iphone changed the landscape.. people are using a ton of data on it, iphone users use more then 80% of all data on the network.. I have no problem with hogs being slapped on the wrist, but these hogs should also have the ability to leave at&t with no penalty, cause they signed the contract for unlimited.. Hope this all gets worked out soon, but I laugh at the folks that think it would be any different on Verizon.. if they had the iphone right now.. they'd be hurting too.. no one, especially not Verizon, expected the iphone to get this big(thats why they rejected the phone first)

@d.allen
Verizon rejected the iPhone because how would VZW make money if all the apps were through apple. Blackberry had to go through VZW Apps at first but now with BB Appworld , I think they are opening up to the "app for that" lol
2) I think the reason ATT struggles with all of the data hogs is bc they are all on one channel. VZW operates using two different channels one for voice the other for data. Think of it as a two lane road with a lot of cars, VZW has more lanes allowing for more traffic!

Wtf @
jk Says:
December 9th, 2009 at 3:47 pm
I agree with ATT on this one, if you use gigs of data you should pay more than someone who uses less than 1 gig. Id love to pay $15 for 1 gig rather than $30 for data I dont use. Keep charging the 2-3 gig+ people $30 and tier the higher users over 4 gigs to $45. In this economy people will curb their data usage if they can pay less by using less. This will help the network load in the long run."
Every other company can charge those prices but surely not pathetic at&t dear...You sound like you work for that disgusting company...

Dennis, I absolutely agree with you. Earlier CNN posted an article referencing a new app to give iPhone users the ability to report phone and network related issues. Apple absolutely needs to break away from AT&T as it is ruining their name and giving other phones such as the Android a real leg up and larger market share.

I'm quite sure that any network provider would have had serious problems supporting such an outrageous number of new users on a newly rolled-out network. My main complaint since buying the iPhone 3G has been primarily that that whole phenomenon has been AT&T's business plan relating to their 3G rollout: the new iPhone users with required unlimited data plans, large text-messaging fees, and 2-year contracts, minus the large device subsidies, would fund their 3G rollout. As AT&T's 3G network expanded, so could their capacity to sell more people iPhones. During the period of iPhone exclusivity, AT&T would benefit from it by having a large, national 3G network covering, let's say, 90-95% of the population (not of the geographical area, just of the consumer base). That's why AT&T's dishonesty and excuses about the fact that a small percentage of users utilize the largest number of resources -- a fact which is true of every single human social system -- are so irritating to me, and why I'm fundamentally opposed to their practices. Agreeing with AT&T is like agreeing that health insurance companies should only cover the medical expenses of those who need it the least (which is in fact what they do).
But, I also maintain that the point is to make these cellular companies compete with one another more directly. None of them is fundamentally better than the others. As a consumer, I benefit most from their attempting to compete with each other on the same basis (service quality, versatility, and cost), and not on the basis of the fact that one of them happens to exclusively acquire the ability to sell the best carrier-locked smartphone for two years.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure that it's a mistake to interpret the vague statement, that AT&T iPhone owners who use a lot of data will pay more, as meaning that those who use less data will pay less. I think that iPhone users who use a lot of data will pay a lot more, and that those who use almost none will pay slightly less.

I think ATT is stupid. They offer unlimited data plans, and then are surprised when people take them up on it. Therefore, they have 2 choices: stop offering unlimited plans, or beef up their network to accommodate the increased traffic. Sadly it looks like they are going to choose the former when they should really be choosing the latter.

If I were a data hog I would upgrade as soon as possible then use the forthcoming change in service as my loophole to get out of my 2 year contract then resubscribe contract free and let them come up with an inventive and cost saving plan to get me back into a contract

what people don't understand is that the more people using data, the more clogged the voice channels. I really don't wanna have a dropped call trying to get 911 or other emergency because some Jackhole is watching porn on his iPhone. Att will only weed out the serial killers of data. Not the average user.

@Omari
Exactly. I pay $30 for unlimited data and if they try to increase that on me before my contract ends, I will leave ATT. Verizon and Sprint are just as good in my area and they both have decent phones to choose from.

If they don't want people using data on their network then don't sell a phone that has heavy data capabilities. He's not talking about stopping "hacked" tethering. He's talking about users that legitly use their phones applications to stream video. Hell, YouTube comes WITH the iPhone and I pay thirty bucks a month for unlimited data.
AT&T needs to be very careful in how they go about this. I know they think they're invincible because they have the iPhone but I'll get a droid in a heartbeat if they take away my data

I doubt that the next iPhone will have LTE built in. The technology will be less common than 3G was when the original iPhone launched. Some people seam to think that overnight, Verizon will have the iPhone and LTE everywhere. Sorry to disappoint, but that's just not going to happen. LTE will be so scarce that it would not be worth Apple's time to put it in next June. Then again, I sincerely hope that I am wrong.

I hate to tell people this but.... Verizon plans to say good bye to unlimited Data plans aswell.. Lowell McAdam already said that customers will be on plans where they will pay for every bit....

The wireless industry is moving towards Data Caps. Interestingly enough if they were smarter they would just make people pay for speed... Average consumer utilizes very little data.. For them Edge is enough. I wish they would just go with a speed Tier where we pay for whether we are gonna use 3G or 4G,

And my next question is why are Verizon people on our blog? Isn't it obvious they want our phone so badly?
You pay $79.99 for a VZW plan with data,
I pay $69.99 for an AT&T iphone plan. Plus $375 early termination fee in Verizon. Never mind.

I don't think AT&T will go ahead and change the iPhone data plan cost structure first off. They did decide to require data plans for certain pay as you go plans recently, so they might change existing plans retroactively in the future.
However, if you read between the lines, it looks like AT&T's first order of business is to work on a way of automatically monitoring individual-device data usage and possibly throttling network speeds when someone reaches a maximum data usage limit. Until recently, AT&T had always maintained that it had no real information about what was happening on its network. Their recent statements about who uses how much data (to get customers to start blaming one another instead of AT&T) sound like the result of retrospective analysis of the entire user base -- an attempt to get some data together in order to get a handle on their networking problems and to make a plan of action (which is what this post is about).
I've heard that T-Mobile can monitor and throttle individual device data usage. Maybe someone can confirm this.
I really think AT&T has managed and continues to manage this problem ineffectively. Developing a reputation for insufficient network services, increasing data usage fees, falling behind in network speed, and losing iPhone exclusivity all in the same year is not going to be pretty.

ATT's probably feels it can make it's network a more reliable (no spend any money) by discouraging large bandwidth users by making them pay big $$$.
"3% of smartphone users use up to 40% of the bandwidth. It’s NOT all smartphone users who’ll get placed on notice."
I'm assuming we're talking about the ATT's network? It might feel like 3% of smartphone users use up to 40% of the bandwidththat but those pipes were probably a lot smaller to start with.
Verizon Wireless might be laughing at ATT now but they will feel the pain as soon as they come out with a phone/apps that really test their network. Their current phones are just not there yet. They've had the time to see how ATT was being impacted by the large number of apps/iphone on the network. Verizon is just restrictive with apps riding their networks.
Just my 2 cents.

I think it all depends on how AT&T re-structures their data plans. If they reprice, then $30 better not be the entry fee to play. That price is already ridiculous to begin with. I have said I will stick with the iPhone through thick and thin but that may change if AT&T continues to slap around their largest customer base (iPhone). I would expect to see the floodgates open when and if AT&T loses exclusivity. AT&T will wonder what happened and they can only point the finger at themselves for ruining the iPhone experience on their network. AT&T needs to shut up and provide us with a premium network for the premium price we are paying. If they can't do that then they need to lower their prices or allow us to leave.
I am not for regulation but I believe the government needs to step in here and reduce/eliminate ETF's and regulate data plan pricing including horrid texting plans that should cost 75% less. AT&T can't have their cake and eat it too. Sadly all other carriers need a kick in the ass too.

Ugh. All of the carriers are doing this. Verizon has a 5gb cap on their "unlimited" data package. AT&T has a well known 5gb cap, same with T-Mobile.