Thursday, March 1, 2012

AT&T Is Officially Going Back On Its Promise And Will Lose Me And Others In the Process!

AT&T Inc. is effectively ending unlimited data plans, saying that it will no longer let customers use more than a set amount of data per month without penalty.

Under a new policy, AT&T will slow download speeds for unlimited 3G and 4G smartphone customers who exceed 3 gigabytes and 4G LTE users who exceed 5 gigabytes of data in a given month. AT&T had previously been slowing speeds, or throttling, customers who were in the top 5% of data users in their respective market.

This was a WSJ breakout.....

On the eve of the next iPad3 announcement and mere months from the anticipated release of the iPhone5, AT&T is officially announcing what early adopters have known for months. Money trumps common sense and loyalty (which goes both ways!).

By way of background, I shifted to AT&T, having been a long time Verizon subscriber, purely because they were the only game in town for the then game changing iPhone. Knowing AT&T's coverage was adequate, if not as robust, as Verizon in my home town and my primary travel zones made this a less painful decision. Still, Verizon had been steadfast; given superior Customer Service and had given me no real reason to leave other than not acquiesing to Apple's negotiated demands for rights to its revolutionary hardware. I never wanted to defect; Apple's alliance with AT&T created a windfall to AT&T over the last five years!

Since announcement of iPhone and iPad support on Verizon I have remained with AT&T for one significant reason, I have been grandfathered (I am beginning to loathe this phrase as it forces me to acknowledge my loyalty and age in many areas of life) in AT&T's unlimited data plans. Presumably, this allows for free use of my iPhone and iPad (which require separate contracts, billings, and sign ins) unconcerned with caps, tiers, and other pricing gimmicks. It isn't much, but I clung to the belief this plan "freedom" was worth the other inconvienances imposed by AT&T.

Then came whispers of data caps on "unlimited" users. To be clear, I have never been the recipient of a "warning email or text." Apparently, I haven't hit the dreaded Top 5% of users in my geographic area or region which have recently been subjected to throttling (imposed data slow down, not spanking, although the two bear more commonality than not). In fact, in some perverse alternate universe I may actually have benefited by my usage patterns by participating in one of AT&Ts tiered pricing plans. One key point, I DIDN'T CARE! I WAS WILLING TO PAY FOR THE SECURITY OF KNOWING SOME MONTH IN SOME INDEFINITE FUTURE, I DIDN'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT CAPS!

Today, AT&T effectively exposed Oz. It is not only the "top 5%" (or 1%!), it is just anyone who dares exceed their pre-set data plan limits. The company's tiered pricing can actually more expensive than current unlimited programs on a "byte by byte" basis which makes this entire soap opera all the more difficult for consumers to understand. Couple this with the recent announcement that this company is ressurecting the assinine notion that app developers can now "pay" to let users enjoy their apps "free of data caps" (in other words, they want companies to "subsidize" their users data usage while on their platform. The only "problem" with this is, usage is already being paid for on "both ends." Does anyone believe Google, FaceBook, Music Row Tech, or any other company isn't paying for their internet usage, or pipe!? this is such a disengenuous arguement, I was going to expound on the issue in a post. Today's shot against "regular" consumers preempted all other thoughts; but I reserve the right to expound on AT&T's practices.

So what are we to do? What will I do? Those of us who have been steadfastly loyal-- original iPhone and iPad users-- have been given free license to go out and date! Monogomy and loyalty has its place and value in life but only if it is reciprocated. AT&T just broke this bond with its most loyal (and I suspect a group in the top quintile of billable charges, if not usage, base!) customers. I have three phones-- two iPhones, a backup, feature, phone my daughter can't even find at the moment, and an iPad with "unlimited" data usage. (I remember hearing on a Leo LaPorte broadcast when the original iPad came out that an AT&T Rep proudly crowed to a question from Leo at the time, "No. You really can use your iPad 24/7, stream video, be online!, unlimited is unlimited!" (Paraphrasing mine, but the message was just this.)

I know I will be buying a new iPhone and iPad in the coming few weeks. I can go with AT&T, Verizon, and possibly Sprint (Sprint does not currently have the ability to support iPads). Now that AT&T has stupidly unlocked me from my concerns about unlimited data, I will buy on other,  more rationale, criteria-- coverage, service, friends, family, and honesty. (Verizon hasn't attempted to "ungrandfather" me anytime lately!)

AT&T bought a monopoly-- exclusivity to early adopting iPhone and iPad users. Those days are gone. The last vestige of value from this equation was in maintaining relationships with customers such as myself. Today this company effectively unilaterally ended this relationship. Really, they "broke up with me in a text" and it sucks and I won't forget.

Verizon, I am sorry. See you next week when I order my iPad 3 (or 2S). I hope your network can handle an influx of Eary Adopters not ready for the tarpit! We really don't use as much data as you think and if we have to wallow in a company's shifting beliefs, we will come to you if your network can handle it. Respect us and we are extremely loyal. I have to say, I am better in monogomous relationships, if you are going to dump me in a couple years by downsizing my data plan, let me know now, I don't take breakups all that well at my age (and I got to pray loyalty still means something!).

How do you feel about AT&T's announcement? Will it change your purchase and/or carrier decisions moving forward? If you find this post of interest, please share through Google+, Twitter and Facebook! We welcome your comments  below!

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Companies:   AT&T, Verizon, Sprint

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