Those remarks led to a planned data protest entitled
Chokehold", which went down on Friday, December 18.
While the protest didn't seem to do too much to AT&T's network,
it did convey the frustration of the company's subscribers.
with BusinessWeek, Mr. De la Vega now says that his remarks
were misinterpreted and his company was never planning to impose
higher fees. He states, "There were no follow-up
questions, so I figured everyone understood what I was saying. I
guess I should have been more clear."
While many have
speculated that AT&T will drop the $30-per-month unlimited data
plan in lieu of a tiered pricing scheme, in order to ease its data
troubles, Mr. De la Vega unequivocally denies this speculation,
stating, "There are things people say I said that I didn't say.
We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing."
than a stick, he says AT&T will use a carrot approach to try to
solve its data issues. Namely, it is ramping up efforts to
provide free Wi-Fi to iPhone subscribers through a series of
partnerships. Its hoping that when iPhone users switch from 3G
to Wi-Fi regularly, the strain on the network will be lessened.
move is essential to AT&T as Wi-Fi via wired broadband is much
cheaper than 3G data transmission. It is estimated that as few
as 12 iPhones streaming video can swamp a single iPhone tower,
leading to Apple suggesting that terrorists
could use unlocked iPhones as a dangerous weapon to our nation's
iPhone users use an estimated 60 percent of
mobile web data, though they only have about a 24.7 percent smart
phone market share (in a 36 million unit market) according to
ComScore. IPhone users pay on average $95-per-month for this
usage, about twice what smart-phone subscribers on other networks
pay. However, the average iPhone user uses approximately five
times the data of a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile user.
prevent such network swamping, AT&T has announced a deal with
food giant McDonalds to waive the $2.95 Wi-Fi charge for
customers at the chain's 11,000 restaurants. AT&T already
had similar deals with the ubiquitous
coffee-superchain Starbucks and the bookstore chain Barnes &
AT&T's voice network also has seen its issues.
In cities the carrier's hardware partners have reported sky-high
dropped call rates. The company cut capital expenditures
this year from $20.3B USD in 2008 to an estimated $17B USD this year,
leading many to criticize it for not investing enough in its
network. The company responds to these criticisms by arguing
that its spending this year was simply more focused on trouble spots,
as San Francisco. Mr. De la Vega comments that in San
Francisco "our network has never performed better".
company is also considering Femtocells
-- personal, portable signal generators -- as a promising solution to
the company's 3G voice and data problems. Unfortunately, those
cells are still not available and no concreted details have been
provided on how they're priced. It's refreshing to see that
AT&T will not be punishing its customers for its shortcomings,
but its management has their work cut out for them in terms of
improving their network and keeping their customers from jumping
ship to rival carriers.