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AT&T tries to trick customers into paying more to use less

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by TBO, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

    AT&T tries to trick customers into paying more to use less

    By Nick Mokey
    Proved by [​IMG]

    AT&T has made little secret of the fact that iPhone users' voracious appetite for Internet bandwidth has loaded down its 3G network to its breaking point. But rather than upgrading its 3G network like T-Mobile, or going full throttle on 4G deployment like Sprint and Verizon, AT&T plans to fix the problem by… asking consumers to bear the load for them, and charging them money for the privilege.

    The company's new 3G MicroCell acts like a miniature cell phone tower, routing calls through your home Internet connection -- the one you probably pay at least $30 a month to access -- rather than burdening AT&T's 3G network with your traffic -- which you will continue to pay at least $30 a month for.

    How nice of you.

    In exchange for taking your weight off its creaking, overburdened network, AT&T will happily charge you $150 for the 3G MicroCell, and continue to deduct minutes from your plan when you use it, even though you're paying another company to handle your traffic, and paid out of pocket for the device to do it. If you want to reap any benefits, AT&T will stop deducting minutes from your plan whenever you're in range of the MicroCell -- in exchange for slapping another $20 bill in its hand every month.

    The story of Tom Sawyer tricking another boy into whitewashing a fence for him and collecting an apple in payment comes to mind, but I can do one better.

    Imagine a bus company that charges you $100 a month for a bus pass, but the busses get so crowded you can barely use them. The bus company's solution: Offer to sell you a bicycle for $150, so you can help free up room on its busses by not using them all the time, even though you'll continue to pay $100 a month as if you did.

    It almost offends me that AT&T thinks we're dumb enough to fall for this, but I know many consumers will be. By promising better reception around the house with the 3G MicroCell, as the company is bound to do in advertising it, many cell customers will happily shell out $150 for one, unaware of the traffic they're moving to their home Internet connections, or the favor they're doing to AT&T. Just like Tom Sawyer's pal.

    In AT&T's defense, it's no guiltier than any other carrier in attempting to dupe us with the 3G MicroCell, which is part of a larger class of electronics known as femtocell devices. Verizon's Wireless Network Extender, launched last year, costs a whopping $250, doesn't provide 3G, and won't even let you stop others -- like neighbors with Verizon plans -- from leeching off your service for better reception. Sprint's Airave pulls similar shenanigans.

    I don't mean to vilify femtocell technology. It's actually marvelous stuff that could help uncongest airwaves and speed up mobile Internet access, but AT&T and others haven taken a completely backwards approach to implementing it. Ultimately, these devices should be free to anyone who agrees to actually use it -- subsidized by carriers in exchange for the lightened load on their networks. And because you cost carriers less, not more, when you use them, unlimited calling with no minute allotment should be a given on any femtocell device as an incentive to use it as much as possible, not an extra you pay monthly for.

    As long as evil geniuses with big marketing budgets get their way, that won't happen. In the mean time, the best you can do is stay as far away from Tom Sawyer's whitewashing scheme as possible, and wait until he offers a real incentive to pick up the brush.

    Maybe I'll flick off the Wi-Fi on my iPhone in protest and soak up even more of AT&T's precious 3G while at home. Just kidding. No act of protest is worth voluntarily subjecting myself to that network more than necessary.

    If you would like to leverage your home Wi-Fi connection to make cheap calls without scratching AT&T's back while you're at it, make sure to check out our list of iPhone VoIP apps that can help you pay for fewer minutes and get more.
    I'm not an AT&T customer (currently), but thought I'd pass this on in case it is of any use to current customers.

  2. When my contract with them runs out, I am seriously going to consider Verizon. I have noticed a lot of things lately that have really put a bad taste in my mouth. That being said, I don't have any complaints as far as their service goes, just their business practices are on the sleazy side.

  3. nursetim


    Mar 1, 2006
    liberalville N. M.
    verizon is just as bad as at&t. If I were you I'd pick who ever has the best coverage and fewest dropped calls. In my case it is verizon.
  4. bharen


    Dec 18, 2005
    Georgia, USA
    Then you obviously were not a victim of the Great Bellsouth - AT&T Merger. An absolute disaster, and a classic example of what happens when a company doesn't give a damn about it's customers.

    They are still trying to untangle that mess.
  5. aircarver

    aircarver Ride Continues Silver Member

    AT&T: "Millions of former customers come back to us every day....... Because we keep buying up the companies they went to"......:upeyes:
  6. NateWarn

    NateWarn RaptusRegaliter

    I work in the wireless industry (not AT&T of course)... If it's alright with you, I'm adding that to my E-Mail signature?
  7. NateWarn

    NateWarn RaptusRegaliter

    Just as a side-note, T-Mobile has been doing this for FREE for almost three years now. (Just saying) "Hotspot@home"
  8. Slug71


    Mar 7, 2010
    Oregon - U.S.A
    Sprint or Boost Mobile is win.

    Sprint=$69.99 a month unlimited everything.
    Boost=$48 a month unlimited everything and plenty of Sprint phones can be used on Boost. Unfortunately no roaming on Verizon with Boost though so coverage isnt as great as with Sprint.
  9. TBO

    TBO Why so serious? CLM

    Thank you for that breakdown, I've been interested by Boost, but the no roam is an important consideration.
  10. lanternlad

    lanternlad Mythmatician

    Mar 28, 2008
    We had Verizon for years, loved the network, hated the price. Got StraightTalk from Walmart. Now I pay $30/mth for 1000 min & 1000 texts all on Verizon's network.
    There is a bit of a catch: StraightTalk's phones SUCK.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2010
  11. MavsX

    MavsX The Dude Abides

    Jan 19, 2009
    Arlington, VA
    i've got at&t with an iphone. i have had zero issues with at&t's network. People just need to realize that 3G really just isnt' that fast. that being said i can't wait till at&t upgrades to hspa+ and then rolls out LTE...then it will be sweet. I'd love to have a microcell here in my house..but i do think it's BS to have to pay a monthly fee. I can understand paying up front for it..but not per month. thats BS