AT&T Needs To Cater To Lite Data Users, Better. 300 MB Isn’t Going To Cut It.


In case you hadn’t heard, details regarding AT&T’s upcoming data plan revamp were leaked last night. For those that didn’t see it:
Smartphones

  • 300 MB – $20/month
  • 3 GB – $30/month
  • 5 GB – $50/month (With mobile hotspot + tethering)

Tablets

  • 3 GB – $30/month
  • 5 GB – $50/month

While we’re slightly upbeat that we can now pay $5 more every month for 3 GB of data instead of $25 + $10 when we go over, it’s hardly a vicotry. What most people will gloss over is the fact that AT&T just made it $5 more expensive to own a smartphone on their network…
 
Sure, for the low data users, 300 MB may (barely) suffice for each and every month and in reality be just enough — more useful than the slightly lower 200 MB data plan it is replacing. But $5 for an extra 100 MB is ridiculous. Never mind the fact that 300 MB by itself is way too little. AT&T really needs to stop these antics of raising the entry fee to smartphone ownership.

We know we’re not the norm, but we feel that AT&T could honestly throw us (techies) as well as more mainstream users a bone. Hell, just leaving our phone sitting and receiving data without even unlocking it to use apps/browser/etc. consumers ~20-30 MB per day. When we here AT&T make claims that “high” data users make up a smaller portion of their customer base and low data users are the majority, we roll our eyes every time. We’d argue it is the opposite: AT&T’s main customer base are moderate to heavy data users and a small subset of said users are lite data users; users that somehow manage to stay under 200-300 MB each month.

Giving 300 MB of data for $20 to anyone is an insult. Where ~25% might be lite data users today will shrink to lower and lower percentages each year. How can it not? Carriers keep marketing their next-gen LTE networks as great for doing all kinds of data-heavy tasks. Take for example, VZW. They claim that users can stream and download all kinds of rich content over their LTE network, yet doing so would blow threw an absurdly low 5 GB cap in a single hour. AT&T’s LTE network while no where near as large (yet) is certainly fast in early testing. If they follow in VZW’s footsteps (and so far the evidence is saying that they will) by offering absurdly low LTE data caps of their own, it will be another example of carriers saying one thing and doing another — use our network for all kinds of awesome tech/services but don’t use it too much.

After that long winded rant, what would we do? For starters, we’d make higher end data plans $30-$40 MAX and lower end data plans start at a minimum of 2 GB. Next, we’d challenge carriers to offer a choice: pick a data plan with no fix overages/data cap that makes use of throttling and a plan(s) that forgo throttling for the currently employed cap + overage fee. It might seem counterintuitive to offer such a choice, but ultimately customers will be happy. No one has the same life, lifestyle, or mobile data habits. Giving customers real options makes them happy. Happy customers become loyal customers.

The cost of providing mobile data in bulk is going down, yet carriers keep rising prices. AT&T (and other carriers) really need to stop this assault on bank accounts and give entry level users a more affordable, useful option.

  • Image Source AllThingsD (Simpsons)
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    • Xenokilla

      Wasn’t that building in Batman?