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[ NNSquad ] FW: [IP] AT&T forcing data plan changes



From: Bob Frankston [mailto:bob2-39@bobf.frankston.com]
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 14:47
To: dave@farber.net; ip
Cc: Chris Kantarjiev
Subject: RE: [IP] AT&T forcing data plan changes


Counting bits is so easy that even a phone company can do it – if they force you to go via their billing towers and they do. They also get the identifiers for your phone and look it up in their database to determine what device it is. It is not your phone – it is their phone explicitly and intentionally designed to disclose a lot of information about you. Even if you thought you bought it – you bought a phone vetted by the carriers. It has one and only one purpose – to serve the needs of ARPU.


ATT seems to be getting more aggressive on this. I wrote about my recent experience in http://www.nnsquad.org/archives/nnsquad/msg02462.html. I don’t know if they’ve changed policy since but old PDA plans were grandfathered.  Perhaps the difference is that I don’t seem to have a data plan but it’s very hard to figure out what is going on using their site – talking telegraph companies billing skills are circa 1860.


In looking at the prices I noticed they have been jacked way up with $20/month for unlimited SMS and $50/month for a PDA bundle that ATT recommends (surprise surprise).


The continuing question is how these relics are able to so flagrantly defy Moore’s law. It’s as if Intel sped up the processor but made you share it among more users at a higher cost each year because we’ve been conned into thinking that computing is expensive and bits are scarce. After all if you  use up the ones and zeros we’d be in deep trouble. Why do we still believe the people who claimed Hush-A-Phone would be the end of civilization?


PS: You’ll only be getting Edge not 3G using an ATT SIM on a T-Mobile device – why not just switch to T-Mobile and save money?



From: Dave Farber [mailto:dave@farber.net]
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 13:41
To: ip
Subject: [IP] AT&T forcing data plan changes



Begin forwarded message:

From: Chris Kantarjiev <cak@dimebank.com>
Date: February 8, 2010 1:01:26 PM EST
To: dave@farber.net
Subject: AT&T forcing data plan changes

Dave, for IP if you wish:

Last Saturday morning, I was awakened early by an SMS to my phone. It was from AT&T Wireless, saying "Did you know a data plan is required for your Smartphone? Call 611 for details."

This was shortly followed by another: "Your Smartphone requires a data plan. For convenience, we have added a minimum plan to your phone. Call 611 4 info."

I found this quite puzzling, since I already had an unlimited data plan on my account, and have for quite some time, since I first got a Cingular 5125 "smartphone" - I've been using wireless data for about 5 years, and had slowly moved up from a 5MB/month plan to unlimited.

I didn't call 611, but instead went my account page at the AT&T Wireless website. When I looked at my feature list, I saw that they had moved me from my pre-existing $15/month unlimited data plan to the $30/month "Smartphone personal" unlimited data plan ... and that the $15/month plan is still highlighted as "recommended". (I tried switching back to the $15/month plan, but received the same set of text messages again in under an hour.)

The light began to dawn. For the past month or so, I've been borrowing a Nexus One to see what it's like. I simply inserted my AT&T SIM into the phone and started using it. I am probably using more data than I used to, but 'unlimited' seems like it should have covered this?

Apparently AT&T is doing some sort of inspection of the data stream. Their latest terms of service say

   If it is determined that you are using an iPhone or other designated    
   smartphone without an eligible data plan, AT&T reserves the right to
   add an eligible data plan to your account and bill you the appropriate
   monthly fee.

Hmm. And just how are they determining this, I have to wonder?

Chris Kantarjiev
Palo Alto, CA