Thursday, June 3, 2010

ATT is changing data plan - what is the real deal?

ATT announced that they are changing the data plan for iphone and ipad. From unlimited to 2 GB a month or 250 MB a month. The latter one does already exist. Their official announced reason is that only 2% of iphone or ipad users are using more than 2GB of data a month.
That sounds really great to have a cheaper plan, however i believe there are two other reasons ATT did not tell us.

1. Ipad users
Ipad users will serve download movies and play online games much more than iphone users and not always is a wifi connection available. ATT is suspecting that the usage of 3G will go up much more and they would like to have a bigger piece of the pie. Because each usage over 2GB gets expensive.
2. iphone users
I believe the much bigger reason is the ability to make 3G calls through skype. As soon this service works very well, a lot of people will buy less minutes from ATT and use more the 3G IP based calling function. We will use it no doubt. Especially people like me who make often international calls. This means my bill will be much higher than before.

From the ATT point of view a smart move to keep revenue up or to get it higher. As i said in an earlier post, phones will be more and more IP phones and not use anymore expensive call minutes.However if the other carriers are not following the same approach and the consumer get used to IP calls and IP messages, ATT might lose a lot of customers to other carriers, which have no iphone but other good and smart phones like the Droid.
But i think all carriers will follow this approach, because is their only chance to keep their average consumer bills as high as they are.

Good thing for now is that a NY or CA iphone user does not need to worry. 3G is still very bad in these regions (because of the amount of users) that they would never reach more than 250MB of 3G usage anyway. But Steve Jobs mentioned in his interview a few days back that this problem will be solved in a few months.

My tip to all iphone users
Go ahead and google cheap calling plans with full 3G access. Cancel your plan with 3G, but before get a new number from skype and inform all your friends about your new phone number. Then unlock your iphone (Software easy to find and download through bing or google - what would we do without search engines). Insert your new sim card and go. If you need to make or receive calls, use Skype (of course with iphone 4G that skype can run all the time).
BTW i would never unlock my iphone, because it might be unlawful to unlock an iphone.

My tip to ATT:
Offer unlimited 3G usage for new users (old 3G plans will be grandfathered) for a acceptable price and offer iphone users or other smart phone users to use 3G without a calling plan. Or at least offer a very cheap calling plan and please don't continue to charge for receiving and sending calls / SMS. Fly to Europe and talk with other carriers there, you might learn that America is one of the few countries which are charging for receiving SMS. This is old school, there is no reason to do so and your customers are smarter than you think, they know it is just a money producing machine for your company.
And if you need to make more money per customer, then come up with new cool products which you can charge for. Example:
Make deals with NY Times and other press companies to include the access to their online data through your network for a special flat fee, which apple etc can't compete. I would pay for it, others too. It is a win win win situation. Your customers are buying more service from you, the press will get much more readers again (which means more ads for them to sell), and we customer pay only one monthly bill to one company.

I am not against or pro ATT or other carriers. I have been with all of them and all are good and not so good. But I think carrier should rethink their business to allow lower costs for consumers especially for international calls or SMS/MMS.

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