I really can’t see how AT&T is having trouble making money, nor can I see how they would be in trouble if they were turned into a “dumb pipe”. Its an eventually they are trying to avoid, but their feeble attempts are only hastening their devolvement into that role. Much like the Empire, the more they tighten their grip, the more trouble they are going to have.
Much like what the internet is doing to cable companies, internet on smartphones (predominantly the iPhone) is undercutting the big money-making services the phone companies have relied on, voice calls and SMS, but still. Even the data “abusers” are not using but a fraction of the bandwidth I use on any given month through our FTTP connection.
At the same time, on a personal level, they are STILL soaking us for a texting plan, voice plan, etc., all of which is severely overkill for our needs, just so we can get a data plan (that we use modestly) at a reasonable rate. And this isn’t an uncommon experience based on my observations. The vast majority of AT&T smartphone customers almost certainly pays more than their share for the amount of data service they use each month, more than enough to accommodate the overages used by the fraction of the user base using more.
Yet AT&T seems hellbent on punishing their entire customer base, simply because they aren’t making as much as they feel they should (read: Greed). As the infrastructure owners, its their prerogative to charge whatever they want. But, in a perfect world the market would be able to respond and slap the hell out of them whenever they pitched such stupid idea. But when your choices are two bags of shit, to paraphrase Lewis Black, its not really a choice.
Every time something like this comes up, I seriously considering switching back to Sprint, a company I swore in 2001 I would never do business with again. But their coverage is still spotty enough in the midwest that its just not feasible. AT&T’s EDGE service has the fewest black holes for where we live. Verizon coverage is usually very binary here. You either have great service, or you have no service. And when you have no service, you can forget about your phone living for more than a few hours on battery. With AT&T, you might not have good service, but you will have a signal, and its almost certainly going to be EDGE, and those radios are hella-efficient, my old EDGE-only 8310 would survive for almost a week without charging if I wasn’t talking on it a lot and was using it exclusively for email/texting, which was the lions share of my device usage at the time.