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  (Source: The Huffington Post)
"Keep in line and don't get a fine" -- may be AT&T's new order of business in order to try to keep its network afloat

It's no secret that AT&T's network leaves something to be desired.  AT&T admits that geographic coverage is poor, but insists that 75 percent of customers have "access" to 3G coverage. 

However, in certain cities the situation is reportedly particularly dire, with an Apple store in New York City reporting 30 percent dropped call rates to be the norm.  As DailyTech's Shane McGlaun comments in a recent blog about AT&T's initiative to roll out an app to identify regions of poor coverage: "All I can say is that I hope AT&T has a server with lots of storage space because near as I can tell the service sucks everywhere."

Now AT&T may be resorting to a new plan to try to stretch its struggling 3G network -- fining iPhone users that use too much data.  Wait, isn't part of the iPhone data plan access to unlimited data transfer?  Yes, that is the case, but it turns out that AT&T is considering plans to make "unlimited" mean "don't use too much or we'll fine you".

The issue was plans were let slip by
AT&T executive Ralph de la Vega at the UBS conference in New York.  He complained that 3 percent of the iPhone users are using 40 percent of the bandwidth.  He complains that these bandwidth hogs are feasting on such forbidden fruit as streaming music and video and that his network just can't keep up.

He says that his company plans to force the users to "reduce or modify their usage." He describes, "We've got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data."'s Epicenter blog suggests that AT&T instead stop selling iPhones in San Francisco and New York, or at least stop selling  the Major League Baseball app, which streams live baseball games to users’ phones.  As the blog points out, the app is quite popular and may be straining the sports-fan-packed networks of NYC and San Fransisco.  No need to fine, just cut the app, they suggest.

AT&T took issue to the negative tone of some of the pieces on the topic and pointed out that it will have spent close to $20B USD in 2009 to upgrade its network.  DailyTech recently had a chance to interview the company about its problems -- you can check that out here.

In other news, there's renewed hope that the iPhone could land on Verizon's U.S. network in 2010.  A Piper Jaffray analyst cited that he was 70 percent sure of a Verizon iPhone in 2010.

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By akse on 12/10/2009 9:41:53 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, totally agree. Posting this from my N900 with unlimited data (512Mbit) 9.9e / month.

If I get a data plan with unlimited data and desire to use it a lot the ISP should make sure that they are cabable to deliver quality services for all customers. If there are areas that have troubles the ISP should invest some more to networks.

By dxf2891 on 12/10/2009 10:48:17 AM , Rating: 4
Unfortunately for AT&T they have grandfathered and locked their customers and THEMSELVES into a contract that states "unlimited" data usage. To "fine" or charge extra for what they consider excessive data use will result in one the largest class action lawsuits in recent history. They have exhibited greed in attempting to corner the market in the smart phone arena and have made claims that their infrastructure is unable to back up. Their only saving grace is that they promised unlimited data, there is no guarantee for speeds and connections. It will interesting to see how this proceeds and I wonder if this is the crack in the armor that Verizon and Droid were waiting for? If AT&T proceeds on this course this will in essence void a lot of their "locked in" contracts freeing people to switch if they choose.

By ICBM on 12/10/2009 12:04:53 PM , Rating: 3
Unless these companies go mean unlimited, they need to not use it, or change the definition in the dictionary. It is major false advertisement to say unlimited and then complain that 4% of the users are using all this bandwidth. So what! They signed up for the unlimited plan, so they should be able to use it all day long pulling as much data as they want. If AT&T didn't want this, DON'T CALL THE PLAN UNLIMITED!!! This is where a suit needs to be brought against them and all others.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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