In what may be the biggest mistake AT&T has made all year, (and there’s plenty of competition for that title), AT&T is basically asking the most savvy of technology users to curb their digital lives. If AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega wants to charge the heaviest data users more money, he is really saying, “Use less or give us more money.” That’s some education if I understand it correctly. Let’s not forget the AT&T wireless network has been in question for quite some time.
AT&T has an exclusive deal with the most innovative phone to date, the iPhone, and it considers many of the people using the data on this device a burden to the network AND lost revenue? So let me get this straight. According to ARS Technica’s article, 3% of all smartphone users suck up just 40% of the company’s traffic. I think the real problem here is the network isn’t robust enough to handle the traffic. The solution is not demanding more money from the heaviest users, who are most likely a group of early adopters, forward thinkers, and social media addicts.
The solution is for AT&T to go back to the drawing board and figure out where the network went wrong. Then, the next step would be to figure out where the money is so that it can be repaired across the board. It’s no secret that Verizon pummeled AT&T on network inadequacies these past two months, whether accurate or not. It’s a big problem. Big enough for AT&T’s largest competitor to launch a fierce multi-million dollar ad campaign calling out what? The network. And this began a lawsuit war back and forth over what? The network. The iPhone doesn’t have tethering in the Unites States yet why? The network. No MMS on the iPhone until 2009 in the United States, why? The network. Is there a pattern here?
If you owned a tanning salon and you had 20 tanning beds, but you had 100 paid subscribers, and it was becoming increasingly harder for your subscribers to use your service, what would you do? Charge the users who came in the most more even though their usage was well within contract? Is that even legal? Wouldn’t you have to expand, buy more space and more tanning beds? It’s a sign of success isn’t it? Is that not good business sense? AT&T seemed to be able to expand its network at all costs when it wanted to enter the cable television and digital voice arenas with its U-Verse service.
It becomes more and more scary to me when a company like AT&T or Comcast can even think about these practices, let alone implement them. This is why I think it is well within reason for the FCC to get involved. It’s getting a bit dicey when it comes to data and we the customers, need to look out for ourselves.
AT&T, on the other hand, needs to look out for its network and at least pretend to care about its customers. Pretty soon, it won’t have any customers left to charge more and its network will fix itself because iPhone and other smartphone users will be on someone else’s network. Some other company that doesn’t complain about its customers actually using what it provides and some other company that is not trying to blame its own customers for the company’s own problems and missteps.
All the education in the world could not be more valuable than a quick peek at an #attfail search on Twitter, at least not to AT&T. And that education, ladies and gentlemen, is surely free.