AT&T Wireless seems to be a company intent on hari-kari. It has sold its customers the wildly popular iPhone, and now blames its customer base for using the device:
AT&T made more threatening remarks aimed at iPhone users ("Wireless data hogs") who use too much "audio and video streaming" today. AT&T Wireless CEO Ralph de la Vega told attendees at a UBS conference in New York...
Wireless data hogs who jam the airwaves by watching video on their iPhones will be put on tighter leashes, ...[AT&T] will also give high-bandwidth users incentives to "reduce or modify their usage."
Just 3 percent of "smart" phone users are consuming 40 percent of the network capacity, de la Vega said, adding that the most high-bandwidth activity is video and audio streaming. Several applications on the iPhone provide nonstop Internet radio.
De la Vega also defended the network's performance, saying testing showed that AT&T's third-generation, or 3G, network was faster than that of competitors, and that major problems are concentrated in New York and San Francisco, which are packed with smart phone users.
AT&T has already pushed iPhone Tethering back into 2010 with no hard date in sight.
Obviously, these threats by De la Vega are not going well with its customer base, one who has grown increasingly surly. While the first of Dan Lyons' "Operation Chokehold" customer protests may have been unsuccessful, it would be easy to see how iPhone/AT&T customers could find other ways to show their dissatisfaction. And surely, all of this has been noted and noted well in Cupertino at Apple HQ. The last thing it wants in the face of increased competition for smartphone sales is a customer revolt towards an antagonistic company. That in and of itself would suggest that Apple must surely be planning to not renew its exclusivity contract with AT&T, not without some contractually specified infrastructure improvements at the very least.
While other smartphone brand owners and carriers may smugly note that they do not have these problems, they would be wise to note this emerging issue. As Droid and other smartphones become more widely accepted and used on other carrier networks, it is seemingly inevitable that they too will join the ranks of the disconnected unless they happen to be nearby a traditional wireless router that they can connect their pocket device to.
The bottom line is that adoption may well bring about data caps with high charges for heavy users, simply because there are not that many providers and should they note that one sees a revenue increase by raising its rates, they can easily follow suit. This in turn will slow the adoption of broadband migration to smartphone devices at least until compression and connection technologies catch up and surpass this problem.