Originally published: December 23, 2009
Last updated: December 23, 2009 - 7:23pm
[Commentary] AT&T currently charges most smartphone users—including iPhone users—$30 for "unlimited" data access, though the fine print in the terms of service note that you can get cut off if you use more than 5GB per month. If a flat monthly rate for "unlimited" data (or at most 5GB) isn't working to provide the proper incentives—actually, it encourages using as much data as possible—tiered pricing is a logical next step. Perhaps more fair to users would be paying per megabyte. Heavy users would pay proportionally more money than light users, and would have a clear financial incentive to curb heavy use. However, light data users—those coming in at far less than the 5GB ceiling—might actually end up paying less. That could put downward pressure on AT&T's rising average revenue per user, which has increased significantly ever since the company became the exclusive US carrier for Apple's iPhone. The rising tide of data use by a growing number of smartphone users may have caught AT&T by surprise. But offering unlimited data plans on one hand, and trying to provide "incentives"—financial or otherwise—to not use that unlimited data on the other, seems disingenuous.
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