AT&T Ditches Metered Billing Trials Without Telling Anyone

from the so-that-worked-out dept

Remember how all those ISPs and broadband providers have been so sure that metered billing and metered broadband is the solution? Yeah, well, perhaps not. Time Warner Cable got scared off by negative publicity, and as was rumored earlier this year, AT&T has ended its metered broadband trials that got so much attention two years ago. Of course, unlike the start of the trials, the end has received almost no attention at all -- perhaps because AT&T never told anyone. It's also a bit amusing that this is happening at the same time that AT&T is switching to metered billing for iPhone data plans...


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  •  
    identicon
    PhilD, Jun 16th, 2010 @ 10:59pm

    Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

    I'd say that this is irrefutable proof that real (even if weak) competition is good for the consumer.

    How can we get the FCC and Congress to stop allowing the cell companies to abuse the market with "our network only" phones & devices like Sprint and AT&T are doing?

     

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      MadderMak (profile), Jun 16th, 2010 @ 11:53pm

      Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

      hmm. At least here in Aus you can just go out and buy the phone then connect to whatever network you want.

      So unless it is different where you are.... how is locking the phone "market abuse" if you can buy the same phone unlocked elsewhere?

      That said your first point stands... bring on the competition.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:04am

        Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

        I think it's because in the US, the taxpayers wholly funded the construction and maintenance of the various "networks" that the companies are now charging us money to access. Not only are they double-dipping, but doing so at unreasonably high rates.

        Now compound the arbitrary and unnecessary lock-down of devices on the publicly-funded network and maybe you'll understand.

         

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          Hephaestus (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 7:01am

          Re: Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

          "I think it's because in the US, the taxpayers wholly funded the construction and maintenance of the various "networks" that the companies are now charging us money to access. "

          Actually the majority of the network is private held and built by corporations.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

            Actually the majority of the network is private held and built by corporations.

            With billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. You left that part out.

             

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          MadderMak (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

          Okay - sure but the "lock in" covers the "purchase" cost of the handset?

          If you want a "free" handset they have to recover the cost at some point... hence the lock to their network.

          Or am i misunderstanding your point?

          On a side note pretty much every network started out gov owned (here in Aus for eg.) and got privatised.... no difference... you pay the goc (in higher taxes) or you pay the corp (in higher call fees) I dont see that as relevant to the discussion about locking... they lock to recover the handset cost.

          Now if you think they recover too much.. well I am certainly not going to argue on that :) If they ploughed the profits back into the NETWORK increasing coverage and performance I would have no issues... but why do the shareholders deserve double digit returns while the custormers get shafted!

           

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        Falindraun (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:49am

        Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

        about 99%+ of all cell phones in the US (aside from prepaid) are sold pre-tethered to a carrier and can not be used on another carrier, to prevent you from leaving one carrier and switching to another without having to buy a new phone.

         

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          Liquid (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:31am

          Re: Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

          Yes they are locked to the carrier, but not to their network which is what they are talking about. Roaming fee's are what we pay to be able to access cell service, and data on other carriers networks.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 6:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

            No no, they are locked to the NETWORK too. You can buy a T-Mobile or AT&T phone, and use it on the other network WITHOUT 3G capability, but that's it. Verizon phones only work on Verizon's network, and same with Sprint.

             

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        PhillD (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 9:25am

        Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

        I am in the US.
        I would love to be able to buy any phone at the "real" price and just use it, but sprint (my current carrier) only allows the devices/phones they sell.

        AT&T has the lock on the iphone/ipad but such horrible service (in Chicago anyway) there's no possible way I'm going there.

        Sprint CS sucks and Their $10 "because we can" plan for the new android phone makes them suck even worse, but the actual coverage in Chicago is excellent for voice and data.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:00am

      Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

      "How can we get the FCC and Congress to stop allowing the cell companies to abuse the market with "our network only" phones & devices like Sprint and AT&T are doing?"

      Pay them more than the companies are paying them right now.

       

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      silentsteel (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:31am

      Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

      A significant part of the issue is that Sprint and AT&T have completely different network architectures. For my Sprint phone to work on AT&T, it would require a very large investment in collaborative network upgrades. I am pretty sure that the carriers do not want to pay for this, and if the FCC/whomever mandates it, then the government (we) will pay for it. I am not sure I like that idea either.

       

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        PhillD (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re: Proof of competition being GOOD for consumers.

        I could be wrong but I don't think that the 4g networks are different from each other at all.

         

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    Brian, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 2:23am

    AT&T is a racket

    In the old days, AT&T was "Ma Bell." Now it's just a racketeering influenced corrupt organization. It violates debt collection laws, consumer protection laws and its contract is unconscionable. The new AT&T needs to be broken up just as the old AT&T was broken up. This time, its principals should be placed against a wall and executed.

     

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      J, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:10am

      Re: AT&T is a racket

      I don't think it needs to be broken up, I think it should not be permitted to by vertical or horizontal competitors in certain markets, it should not be permitted to make "exclusive" contracts with others and it should not be permitted to exclude others from its network because it competes with their offerings, maybe there is more to it.

      If you break up that company it will only grow again to become the same thing it is today, the problem is the underlying parameters that permitted this to happen.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:16am

        Re: Re: AT&T is a racket

        Right. Breaking it up Worked So Well Last Time(TM). We need to address the environment that allowed them to get the way they are now.

         

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          Ven, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 8:15am

          Re: Re: Re: AT&T is a racket

          Parts of the break up of Ma Bell did work well, others did not.
          The regional local telecoms did nothing to encourage competition between them, but without that it would not have been possible to separate the long distance from local. That did allow competition for a time. The vertical separation of local exchanges and long distance force a choice between a number of long distance carriers even if you were forced to use a regional local carrier.

          Unfortunately I think the vertical conglomeration of local, long distance, internet, TV and mobile service, while making it appear simpler to most people, is only making it harder for consumers to make effective choices about who they get service from.

           

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          chris (profile), Jun 18th, 2010 @ 8:05am

          Re: Re: Re: AT&T is a racket

          Right. Breaking it up Worked So Well Last Time(TM). We need to address the environment that allowed them to get the way they are now.

          telco regulation worked until 1996, when it was deregulated. the telecommunications landscape went from a large number of competitors in cutthroat price wars to a decade spent rebuilding the bell monopoly in the form of the AT&T and verizon duopoly.

          the profits made were not re-invested in their networks, but instead spent buying up competitors.

          http://www.newnetworks.com/ShortSCANDALSummary.htm

          i would imagine that before long the big telcos will be facing debt problems similar to the newspapers: plenty of income for operations, maintenance, and upgrades, but not enough to do all of that AND service the debts from acquisitions.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:43am

        Re: Re: AT&T is a racket

        I disagree -- the problem isn't that they CAN make these business decisions, but that there's not enough competition to make it hurt when they make stupid or anti-consumer decisions

         

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  •  
    identicon
    J, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:23am

    Metered was a failure in the beginning of the internet and it is a failure now, that is not surprising at all.

    Probably AT&T saw what metered means, less consumption with less money involved.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 4:41am

    The problem with breaking it up the first time is that you couldn't. Not in any way that will do any good. They did it by region the first time, so you aren't building any sort of competition, you're simply giving each little 'bellette' a monopoly in its region. Customers had no more choice of who their provider would be after the breakup than before.

    This time around though, it could neatly be split into 3 or 4 different businesses which would eliminate the unfair advantage AT&T has in the marketplace. Wireless, POTS/TV/ISP, Backbone Provider Network. The level 1 network is the biggie, they control the worlds largest communications backbone which can be leveraged throughout all the rest of its different businesses. And btw, we the tax payers paid for it. Breaking it off from the rest of AT&T would go a long way toward forcing them to work by the same rules as everyone else.

    By themselves, none of the three things I said are really a monopoly per say. But put it all together, and AT&T is a behemoth no one can touch because each of its businesses protects the other.

     

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      MadderMak (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:41pm

      Re:

      just a refinement... how about the NETWORK is owned by a seperate company that is banned from retail... ie: they can only sell wholesale to service providers... then the only regulation required would be to ensure "fair and equal" pricing for all retailers.

      Wow - I like that one :)

       

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    Comboman (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 5:00am

    Simple Economics

    Metered billing makes sense for iPhone use, where each additional byte has a relatively high cost (ATT's mobile network is stretched to the limit in many areas, requiring build out of addition infrastructure). On the other hand, metered billing for wired broadband doesn't makes sense because once a home is wired up, each additional byte has an extremely low cost (the network is not running anywhere near capacity).

     

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      PhillD (profile), Jun 17th, 2010 @ 9:33am

      Re: Simple Economics

      Comboman,
      By your reasoning, it makes sense for AT&T not to improve their service, if it's scarce then it costs more right?
      Not investing in infrastructure = Higher profits?

      Again, real competition would fix that, someone else would have the network that CAN support all those data users and would take away enough of AT&T's customers that their network was no longer stressed.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Moore's law as it applies to bandwidth and will remain true only if money is spent on research.

    Perhaps someone started investing the the future instead of continuing to divest cost centers to Alcatel...?

     

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    identicon
    Levi Genes, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 9:58am

    Moore's Law

    Moore's law as it applies to bandwidth will remain true only if money is spent on research and technology.

    Perhaps someone started investing in the future instead of continuing to divest cost centers to Alcatel...?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Levi Genes, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 9:59am

    Moore's Law

    Moore's law, as it applies to bandwidth, will remain true only if money is spent on research and technology.

    Perhaps someone started investing in the future instead of continuing to divest cost centers to Alcatel...?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Levi Genes & Gordon E. Moore, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Moore's Law

    Moore's law, as it applies to bandwidth, will remain true only if money is spent on research and technology.

    Perhaps someone started investing in the future instead of continuing to divest cost centers to Alcatel...?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

    Not Really Metered

    I would like to point that what Mike and lot of other people like to call "metered service" really isn't. True metered service charges you only for what you use. No "levels", "caps", "tiers" or those kind of shenanigans that most of these "plans" masquerading as "metered service" use. True metered service could be a good thing, but I have yet to see any ISP actually offer it.

     

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