by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
metered billing, mobile broadband, tiered plans


AT&T Celebrates The Fact Almost No One Actually Signs Up For Cheaper Plans

from the upsell dept

We recently talked about how claims from various telcos and cable providers that "metered plans" are designed to help lower income types "save money" with cheaper plans was a bunch of bunk. The plans were pretty clearly designed to attract a bare minimum of consumers, so that the companies can claim cheaper plans in their advertising, but make the cheap plans almost impossible to use unless you upgrade. So it should come as little surprise to see AT&T hyping up how few people actually sign up for its "cheap" mobile broadband plans. This isn't a surprise, as we made exactly this point a few months back, when some in the press started misinterpreting some research and claims from Nielsen that the AT&T plans were "a good deal." What's funny, though, is how different the message is depending who these companies are talking to. When it's the press or politicians, it's all about "cheap plans for low level users." But when it's investors the story is about how it's actually resulted in customers paying more on average and they plan to keep ratcheting that up.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Simontek, Dec 8th, 2010 @ 8:51pm


    I am using TimeWarner's cheap plan, man does it suck. I have been disconnected every other day for the past 3 weeks. I would upgrade, but its included in the rent.

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

  2. icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), Dec 8th, 2010 @ 9:24pm

    Qwest "basic" phone

    And I still remember the rigamaroll of 5 years ago with "basic long distance" which covered just your area code.

    I moved and I asked for it and Covers just about anything in my city limits.

    Except I remember on my parents "basic" plan it covered all of my area code.

    Had to pick up long distance to dial my local area code.

    Gee and I thought technology made things cheaper.

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

  3. identicon
    net625, Dec 8th, 2010 @ 9:39pm

    I have it

    I have the 200mb data plan (I don't pay for my phone so I don't complain). I still don't get how $10 takes you from 200mb to 2048MB and then another $10 gets you an extra 1024MB. This pricing is BS. In most other countries it isn't hard to find cheaper data rates, except france.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 8th, 2010 @ 10:07pm

    Re: I have it

    Corporations get govt imposed monopoly power here, and so they get to charge what they can.

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

  5. icon
    Blatant Coward (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 2:09am

    The Communications Industry, proudly doing what sex workers on the street corner get arrested for.
    The Communications Industry, proudly showing while you can't get something or nothing, you can certainly get nothing for something!

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

  6. icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    A lot of it is the consumer's fault

    When Cable companies moved into the voice market, all of their calling plans were flat rate and included long distance, which was clearly better than what the Telcos were offering.

    The telcos were in a screwed up position because even thought they had competitive VoIP products they couldn't give up their circuit switched voice customers who were paying through the nose. So they did their best to tell everyone how bad VoIP service was.

    Now that consumers feel comfortable with the new services and the telcos are offering that bad VoIP service, they just changed the name from VoIP to "Digital Voice". Once the Cable companies got all that extra voice business bundled with their TV and broadband, they decided to take a lesson from the telcos and start charging for local long distance. And now the telcos are going into the TV market and Im sure the Cable companies will talk about how bad IPTV is.

    And yet with all these new services and faster pipes, both the Telcos and the Cable companies AND Wireless companies want us to believe there is a serious bandwidth shortage and so they need to start metered plans.

    If we sit back and accept this as consumers then its our own fault. If your communications provider in the US charges you for local and long distance calls, then SWITCH. If your broadband provider insists on metering, then SWITCH. Send them a message.

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

  7. identicon
    Spike, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 6:17am

    They don't market the cheap plans when you sign up

    When I signed up for ATT, the option I was given was the $25 plan. I had to dig to find out the $15 plan existed, then I had to specially request it.

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

  8. icon
    senshikaze (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    I got ATT's cheaper data rate plan, it is like 65$ a month for some limited phone, unlimited text, and 500mb data. Frankly I am almost never away from wifi anyway.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 6:30am

    You are stupid if you even do business with AT&T. They have horrible service. Slow speed, lousy customer service (takes hours to resolve any real problem) and high prices. Even their DSL sucks. We know from experience. As long as you don't travel you can get service. But try to drive up the California Coast and talk on the phone! HAH! Even Verizon can do it but not AT&T. They say they cover 97% of the US! Maybe the population but not the area.

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

  10. identicon
    Transbot9, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 7:39am


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

  11. identicon
    Transbot9, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Whoops, tapped the ENTER

    Meh, I only signed up with the plan I did with T-mobile because I was able to get the G2 for free on Cyber Monday. One of the first things I did was turn off Wireless Data and turned on WiFi.

    The telephone system in the US is really terrible, though - and not just cell phone reception.

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

  12. identicon
    PRMan, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 8:20am


    I've talked all the way up to San Francisco and all the way down to San Diego and maybe dropped the call once each way (in really deserted areas) on Sprint. And this way a decade ago. They probably have those holes filled now.

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

  13. identicon
    hegemon13, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Re: A lot of it is the consumer's fault

    If switching was an option for most people, they wouldn't be able to start metering in the first place. The problem is local monopolies. You say "Switch!" to which many respond, "To what?"

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

  14. icon
    DanVan (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 5:07pm

    The 2gb top data plan by AT&T is utter embarrassing

    It is laughably low and more and more people are hitting it.

    The fact that AT&T made it so low is telling that they WANT more people to hit it so they can bask in many people getting penalties thus more money for them

    I will be switching out of AT&T soon unless they raise their cap

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

  15. identicon
    aziz, Dec 23rd, 2010 @ 10:58pm



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

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