iPhone Users Sucking Down Major AT&T Data

This, friends, is the definition of "caught between a rock and a hard place." You see, AT&T is desperate to hang on to its iPhone exclusivity, particularly now that Verizon Wireless is reportedly looking to coerce Apple into producing a version for its CDMA network. On one hand, keeping the iPhone close to the chest enables AT&T to net loads of new customers; on the other, it forces the carrier to continually upgrade its networks to handle the influx of data usage. A tough spot to be in, clearly.

According to a new report in The Wall Street Journal, 5.9 million iPhone 3G handsets were activated on AT&T's network in the past three months, which amounts to a substantial 7.5% of its total subscribers (in that window). And if you think that's noteworthy, just imagine how many of these things were being added back when the iPhone 3G was "new." Based on research conducted by Alcatel-Lucent, iPhone users are far and away the heaviest users of smartphone data, and the increasing amount of phones on the network could put a serious strain on the wires. Of course, none of this should be a surprise; Steve Jobs himself admitted that the iPhone was the first phone where you could actually use the full Internet, and amazingly, he was right. Unlike any other phone, users can actually enjoy the Internet experience on the iPhone, enabling and encouraging them to use more and more data.

In case that wasn't scary enough for AT&T (and other carriers, to an extent), the future holds loads of streaming video, which will be easy to digest with forthcoming 4G networks. The question is if AT&T (or others) will try to change the way it charges for data in order to make up for all this network expansion it's being forced to complete. Consumers obviously hope not -- after all, $30 per month for iPhone data seems pricey as-is, particularly when you consider that the iPhone cannot be tethered to one's notebook. One has to wonder how attractive the iPhone would be if the monthly rate shot up, and strangely enough, all of this contradicts with rumors we heard recently that AT&T would soon be dropping the lowest monthly iPhone rate by $10. We're hoping all of this is just hubbub that'll pass, or that someone would create a Wi-Fi repeater powerful enough to blanket a city. Though, the latter is quite unlikely.