AT&T's CEO Speaks Candidly About Unlimited Data, iMessage

Chief executives probably have plenty of things to regret. Running multi-national corporations isn't easy, and when making snap decisions, you can often get things a little wrong. Sometimes, you don't even know it's wrong until the entire landscape of things changes. AT&T has seen huge, huge growth in recent years, largely due to the iPhone. And at the start, offering unlimited 3G data for $30/month seemed like a fair deal. They had to price data in a way that would convince dumbphone buyers to take on another monthly fee, and they had plenty of access to sell. But, things change. Now, AT&T's network in many places (SF, NYC, etc.) is oversaturated, and many carriers have moved to tiered data plans in order to try and cope with the changing usage scenarios out there.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, recently spoke at a wireless conference about the woes of data. In fact, it's kind of surprising that he'd even say this. Here's a quote: "My only regret was how we introduced pricing in the beginning, because how did we introduce pricing? Thirty dollars and you get all you can eat. And it’s a variable cost model. Every additional megabyte you use in this network, I have to invest capital. You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model. Apple iMessage is a classic example. If you’re using iMessage, you’re not using one of our messaging services, right? That’s disruptive to our messaging revenue stream."

Surprisingly frank. But honestly, now that data tiers are in place, it's strange to hear him harping on the past. This certainly won't go over well with eagle-eared customers, and those on grandfathered unlimited plans are super likely to really, really take advantage of their options now. It's also really strange to hear AT&T's exec lashing out at an Apple feature -- without the iPhone, where would AT&T be? Well, they'd have far less saturated networks, so that's something...
Tags:  Apple, iPhone, ATT
Atticus14 2 years ago

Im not a google fanboy or anything, but honestly i have no idea who else could take on the task and maybe just maybe not be corrupted (at least not near as much as the other guys)..but anyway...Google please buy tmobile and make those of carriers squirm

DHampton 2 years ago

I think its funny how these companys expand expand and expand making billions. But yet they think since their are more people using the service they are providing. That not providing that service is a better business model. Honestly this is why I don't use a dedicated cell anymore. Inbetween skype, email some clever routing and some reprogramming of a burner phone. I pay around 100 bucks for a whole year of service and dont ever have to worry about overages ect.

People don't realize how much money companys make off their stupidity. Most people rent modems for 10 bucks a month from internet providers. Not realizing the modems a only 60 bucks. People buy hdmi cables from best buy for 40 dollars or more when you can buy exact same cable length and brand only for 3 dollars. And people keep paying more and more for less and less cell service. These things will continue to happen to people actually start to catch on.

RNakrani 2 years ago

Cellular will be here for a very, very long time, but I'm looking forward to seeing how this type of setup competes in the future:

rapid1 2 years ago

I would love to see that happen Atticus14. As for what DHampton is saying I agree and disagree. I used to always own my modem and router. However; I have 4 modems now that do not work sitting in my basement collecting dust, and I have 1 which is a DOCSIS 3 one I rent from Comcast for $7.00 a month. The thing is if it dies COMCAST will give me a new one and I will pay no more. The next thing is all the dead modems I have downstairs were lost to power spikes 1 through the network 2 through power and 1 by heat induction. So it seems a better option to me to rent the modem and pay the 7 dollars as well as the more economical one over time (I pay $84 a year and have no worries) where as I could pay 60-70 ever 11 months or so and in the end it is more expensive to own the modem. Plus if I get a surge the modem in front of my Vonage box which I own (for free), and the my Trendnet WIFI router is guarded against either network power surges be they Black, Brown, GREY, Blue, or RED ones.

omegadraco 2 years ago

What he fails to mention is how many of those iPhone users are still paying for a messaging plan anyways since these cell carriers won't even sell you certain phones without certain services (messaging/data plan). I think At&t is doing just fine financially now they just need to actually invest some of that capital into their network.

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