AT&T Hints That It Might Introduce Usage-Based Pricing For Smartphone Customers

What do you say when everyone keeps complaining that you can’t handle traffic on your network? If you’re AT&T, you say “We just need to charge more money” and “Our customers who are actually using their phones as advertised are ruining things.” AT&T’s head of consumer services, Ralph de la Vega, told investors today that usage-based pricing is going to happen eventually, and that the company is planning on giving heavy users–who make up 3 percent of their customers–“incentives to reduce or modify their usage.” Somehow I’m guessing he doesn’t mean coupons or cash-back bonuses.

“We need to educate the customer … We’ve got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data,” de la Vega said. “We’re improving all our systems to let consumers get real-time information on their data 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.

“AT&T: Network Stressed By Data Usage, Crackdown On ‘Data Hogs’ Coming” [Associated Press via Huffington Post]