AT&T Wants to Throttle iPhone Data... or Just Charge More for Heavy Usage?
de la Vega did use most of his time, after announcing VoIP over 3G for iPhone, to rail against the FCC's net neutrality push. He claimed a small percentage of heavy data users (i.e. iPhone users) were hogging most of the limited data resources, and "crowding" out regular (i.e. non-iPhone users). He also stated that AT&T would need to "manage" the network so that the few couldn't crowd out the many.
This is what makes PC World think:
In the face of exploding data service demand and scarce wireless spectrum, does AT&T intend to quietly begin rationing the data usage of bandwidth hogs like the iPhone? Will AT&T begin to quietly “manage” the duration and speed of my 3G connection based on how much data I’ve used in a given day, or on the type of content or services I’m using the bandwidth to access?
Aside from "AT&T should spend some of their billions making a better network and getting 4G here faster", it's hard to argue that the iPhone hits the network like a freight train, and when you multiply that by tens of millions of users, it's a huge load (something RIM emphasizes to carriers when pitching their highly compressed, proxied BlackBerrys as "better network citizens").
That's an immediate problem for the iPhone on AT&T, but arguably if another device with a great internet experience ever succeeds enough to reach those numbers on a single network -- Android or webOS for example -- it will become an everyone problem everywhere.
Dieter Bohn, editor-in-chief of our Smartphone Expert network was live at AT&T's keynote yesterday, but his takeaway was a little different:
It's pretty clear from [de la Vega's] complaints about the top percentage that he would want tiered data prices instead of unlimited for everybody. That seems more likely what was meant by 'managing.' I think that rather than rationing, ATT would just like to charge that top percentage more.
What do you think? Do you want AT&T "managing" your iPhone usage? Does it sound fair to charge heavy users more for that heavy use?