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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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RE: Just Try It
By dxf2891 on 12/10/2009 11:10:11 AM , Rating: 2
Paper work is already typed up and awaiting the first charge/fine and it's off to federal court. We pay a premium for unlimited data. They issued us a contract in good faith, and now they want to decide to change the terms? Like you said, "Just try it." My plan is to have them pay the early termination fee that we would have to if we were to prematurely end our contract.

RE: Just Try It
By theapparition on 12/10/2009 1:28:01 PM , Rating: 4
I suggest you read your fine print on the contract. It will have something stating that they can change terms of contract at any time. Before anyone would get fined, you'll get those envelopes in the mail that says "Important changes to your account" with a pamphlet written in tiny legaleeze.

That's how it's done.

Now here's the important part. Them changing the contract also requires that you accept the contract (aka, do nothing). Non acceptance means canceling your service immediately, with no contract termination fee required.

So you do have a choice when the pamphlet comes in, accept thier terms, or cancel your service.

However, your individual lawsuit will fall on deaf ears. And good luck with a class action lawsuit. You'll win and get a coupon good for $20 off your next two years of service with AT&T hell.

RE: Just Try It
By warrioryoko on 12/12/2009 8:58:57 PM , Rating: 2
There are things that may be agreed to or rights waived in the scope of a contract, but not all hold up in court.

Similarly, the 'right to make changes (with prior notification) to contractual agreements' doesn't work like a corporate 'get out of jail free' card.

It's really all going to depend on how AT&T handles the customer right's end of the contract.

If AT&T makes the decision to start any sort of metered charging scheme for 'excessive use' of it's unlimited data plan - at minimum it's going to have to let a lot of people locked into the unlimited data plan & associated contracts requiring x months of paid data plan go without an early termination fee, and probably any phone or other accessories they received as goodies as part of the bargain.

That alone is a *huge* financial hit and loss of future business prospects, not to mention a load of bad PR on top of probably losing their exclusive iPhone contract to Verizon.

If they try and stick it to their customers and don't give them a free out of their prior contract without biting them, then they certainly *will* have a class-action lawsuit on their hands that they'll lose by a landslide.

But I wouldn't expect anything extra from a lawsuit besides contract nullfication than a 'coupon good for crap nobody wants' if that.

But the loss of business and equipment (free phones, etc) as well as horrible publicity is damaging enough.

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