Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadband caps, bundles, tv

Companies:
at&t



AT&T Is Happy To Remove Wireless Broadband Caps, But Only If You Sign Up For Its TV Services

from the witness-this-fully-armed-and-operational-battle-station dept

We're formally now bearing witness to the "synergistic" fruit of AT&T's $69 billion recent acquisition of DirecTV. When the deal was first proposed, even Wall Street wondered why AT&T would spend that kind of money on a satellite TV provider on the eve of the cord cutting revolution. But AT&T has a very clear plan of attack, and as we recently noted, its first move post merger was to raise the rates of DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse TV customers in perfect unison. Now AT&T has added a new wrinkle to its post-merger plans, bringing back unlimited wireless broadband data -- but only if you sign up for the company's television services.

According to a new company announcement, customers who sign up for both AT&T wireless service and AT&T U-Verse TV or DirecTV service can nab unlimited data for $100 per month, plus $40 per month for each additional device:
"The new AT&T Unlimited Plan includes unlimited data and unlimited talk and text. Customers can get the AT&T Unlimited Plan on a smartphone for $100 per month. Additional smartphones are $40 per month each, and a fourth smartphone can be added at no additional cost. The new AT&T Unlimited Plan is the first of many integrated video and mobility offers the company plans to announce in 2016."
Note your mileage may vary as to whether this is actually a good deal. For instance this plan requires users pay $40 a month to add a tablet to the plan, which is only $10 a month if you remain on AT&T's metered data plans. Obviously many users won't be able to take advantage of the offer if they're not within AT&T's U-Verse fiber-to-the-node TV service footprint, or can't get a clear shot at DirecTV's satellites.

AT&T's move is just the latest in a long saga involving unlimited data. AT&T announced it was eliminating unlimited data plans in 2010. And while it grandfathered existing unlimited data users at the time, it has waged a quiet war on those users ever since. The company worked tirelessly to drive these users to metered plans, going so far as to block some video services from working unless users switched to metered plans. The company was also caught throttling these unlimited connections after just 5 GB of usage, resulting in an FCC fine and an FTC lawsuit that AT&T continues to fight to this day.

After its run in with regulators, AT&T's been slightly more transparent about the fact its unlimited data plans aren't truly unlimited. In the fine print of this week's offer, AT&T is quick to note that again, by "unlimited" AT&T really means limited:
"After 22GB of data usage on a line in a bill cycle, for the remainder of the bill cycle AT&T may slow data speeds on that line during periods of network congestion."
Obviously AT&T wants users to believe this is a wonderful example of how AT&T intends to deliver cross-brand value, and to some degree the move is a response to T-Mobile's competitive pressure. However, when you realize that usage caps are largely arbitrary and not tied to any real-world technical or economic justifications, AT&T's basically just using artificial barriers to drive consumers to its own branded products. With AT&T's ongoing flirtations with testing net neutrality via zero rating, one can only imagine some of the dubious cross-brand "synergies" AT&T has planned for 2016.

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 11 Jan 2016 @ 2:05pm

    For instance this plan requires users pay $40 a month to add a tablet to the plan, which is only $10 a month if you remain on AT&T's metered data plans.

    I tried to parse that and my brain threw an exception. Either this is a typo or I'm missing some important context.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2016 @ 2:13pm

      Re:

      Missing context = AT&T arrogance.

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

    • icon
      Robert Beckman (profile), 11 Jan 2016 @ 4:20pm

      Re:

      For instance this plan requires users pay $40 a month to add a tablet to the plan, which is only $10 a month if you remain on AT&T's metered data plans.

      I tried to parse that and my brain threw an exception. Either this is a typo or I'm missing some important context.
      ------------------------------------------------------

      AT&T's current model works like this:
      You pay for a certain level of base service (minutes, text, data). Based on the tier of base service, adding on additional lines costs a fixed fee per month to use that base service. Assuming unlimited minutes/texts and fixed set of data, adding a phone costs ~$15/month and a data-only device (i.e. a tablet) costs $10/month.

      So if you stay on a metered plan and pay $100/month for your phone, and want to add your tablet, it'll cost you an additional $10.

      If you have an unlimited plan and pay $150/month for your phone, and want to add your tablet, it'll cost you an additional $40.

      In short, you pay more to have the option of unlimited* data on a device, then $40 (as opposed to $10) per additional device.

      Make sense now?

      *where unlimited != unlimited

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2016 @ 5:56pm

      Re:

      > I tried to parse that and my brain threw an exception. Either this is a typo or I'm missing some important context.

      's what ya get for not doing rigorous enough error handling in your lexical analyzer. Of course, if you'd have been just a bit lazier, you would have simply rebooted and and used your 'that's nice honey' filter, without interpreting it at all!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2016 @ 11:37pm

      Re:

      AT&T defrauding their customers, most likely.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2016 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      To sign up for service you not only pay $X for data, voice and text message service, but these companies new plans require to pay a device connection fee as well. Usually it's $30 to $40 per month for a phone, or $10 for a tablet.

      If you sign up for AT&T's shared and metered data plan, you pay $10 a month to add your tablet to your shared data allotment. But if you're an unlimited data customer, you pay AT&T $40 a month for this same thing.

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

  • icon
    WDS (profile), 11 Jan 2016 @ 2:21pm

    Tethering

    The new plan also does not allow tethering.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2016 @ 2:39pm

    Hey! Everyone sign up! We are the good guys!

    .. till they start changing the TOS afterwards.

    "Yeah, remember how we said it unlimited with U-Verse, we had our fingers crossed."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2016 @ 2:59pm

    $140 isn't that good a deal when you look at you still have to pay for the U-Verse in addition. For that kind of money I can get a business plan with no caps and still have money left over.

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

  • identicon
    Shmerl, 11 Jan 2016 @ 3:01pm

    Which shows again that caps aren't necessary even for mobile networks.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2016 @ 4:49pm

    Agree to unlimited payment

    I agree to pay for AT&T's unlimited data plan with my "Unlimited" payment plan.

    I will pay the agreed upon price, but after paying $40 per month, all additional payment for the month will be at the rate of $.01 per day until the balance is paid off (no interest or penalties can be applied). Should AT&T Terms and conditions change at any time, all outstanding balances become zero and the payment plan starts over under the new terms with the same conditions.

    Sounds fair and "unlimited" to me as AT&T will continue to receive daily payments for an unlimited amount of time.

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

  • identicon
    Mike Moore, 11 Jan 2016 @ 4:57pm

    Be Smart....

    In case anyone wants to do this deal, be smart, first, use 1-855-641-5895 to call Directv. That way you get free shipping and handling for your equipment. Second, find someone who has Directv so you can use the Refer-A-Friend discount of $10 off for 10 months for both you and your friend. Don't know anyone? Use my account number: 47061780. Also, if you choose the Choice package or above, have the agent give you these things for free: 2016 NFL Sunday Ticket, Cinemax, Showtime, HBO, and Starz/Encore for 3 months and the HD Extra Pack for 3 months. If you're an existing AT&T cell phone customer, they will also give you an additional $10 off a month, but that is an ongoing discount, it won't expire after 10 months like the Refer-A-Friend discount but still stacks with it!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2016 @ 6:54pm

    22GB is absolutely NOTHING when things like Windows 10 upgrades are being pushed out and new games coming out that are frequently 10GB or higher.

    Data caps are plain and simple technological regression.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 11 Jan 2016 @ 8:02pm

      Re:

      Not technological, financial. Data caps have nothing to do with technological limits, and everything to do with squeezing as much money out of their customers as they can.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 11 Jan 2016 @ 10:45pm

    I don't know. Is $100 a month for a mobile device a good deal in any circumstance at all?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2016 @ 1:44am

    Wow, I may live in the UK - a country with about as many blocked sites as China - but damn, I'm glad I don't live in the US and have to put up with all that cable company BS! For the country that claims to have invented the net you sure are doing a bad job of deploying and using it!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2016 @ 5:08am

    Wake up AT&T, the middle class is dead. You will need to continue raising your prices in accordance with what the 1% can afford.

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

  • identicon
    Teknodruid, 12 Jan 2016 @ 5:56am

    That's not all...

    AT&T is also moving about 90% of DirecTV support overseas.

    I know, our location lost the contract and we're done soon.

    So that "highest customer satisfaction" rating they have - yah, that's going to plummet. Over the past 2 months we had begun to hear A LOT of customers complaining the over seas folks were rude, didn't know how to fix problems, hung up on customers, refused to let customers talk to supervisors, were cursed out and then hung up one, etc...
    and of course the typical "Can't speak English, I can't understand them!" complaints.

    AT&T will -RUIN- DirecTV's ratings - like everything else they touch they are turning it to complete sh*t.

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

  • identicon
    Stop calling it unlimited!, 12 Jan 2016 @ 7:48am

    If you are going to throttle people's data after 22gb then it's not unlimited! Stop calling it that!

    God I'm so sick of these broadband companies and their constant dishonesty. Can't the FCC or someone put a stop to this kind of bullshit?

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

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 12 Jan 2016 @ 11:32am

    This is a Cable TV story, Not A Mobile Phone Story

    AT&T's offer ensures that customers who get Unlimited Data ALSO have a paid TV subscription and thus will watch much of their content on a home TV, not the mobile phone. Also, many of the new unlimited customers will have U-Verse DSL as well. That means they'll be on Wi-Fi at home when they stream video to their phone.

    The only customers who would get the most out of this (i.e. the cord and cable cutters) are the ones who are specifically NOT included in the offer. This offer is more likely to tip some customers towards an AT&T TV subscription versus a competing cable or Dish Network offer.

    In the end, this offer is more about competing in the cable TV sector than the mobile phone sector.

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

  • icon
    dhaliazizul (profile), 16 Feb 2016 @ 10:51pm

    Jobs Circular BD

    In the end, this offer is more about competing in the cable TV sector than the mobile phone sector.

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

  • identicon
    Shakil Islam, 21 Jul 2016 @ 11:49am

    bdjobs Today

    To sign up for service you not only pay $X for data, voice and text message service, but these companies new plans require to pay a device connection fee as well. Usually it's $30 to $40 per month for a phone, or $10 for a tablet. thanks for sharing..

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


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