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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."

Wired.com'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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