If you’re on one of AT&T’s limited data plans, you’d better start carefully monitoring the data usage, because some customers are noticing unexplainable daily hits on their accounts. The support forums at Apple are filled with pages of theories and complaints from frustrated customers, but our tipster David got the following admission directly from an AT&T rep: “She told me that most, if not all, 3g-capable iPhones were being charged erroneously like I had been experiencing. She told me AT&T was unaware of why the data was being charged, and where it was coming from.”
AT&T has officially delivered on the threats made by its consumer business director Ralph de la Vega last December: it’s switching to usage-based pricing on data plans for smartphones and the iPad. Starting Monday, all new AT&T customers who buy an iPad, iPhone, Blackberry or other smartphone and purchase the necessary data plan will have two options: $25 for 2 gigabytes, or $15 for 200 megabytes.
On August 14, the Cleveland Plain Dealer printed a column by a business writer who described her 6-month-long ordeal with Verizon concerning a mysterious $1.99 charge for “data usage.” The paper says that over 400 Plain Dealer readers responded with complaints similar to the one in the column. Now the paper says they have a promise from Verizon to refund these mysterious and erroneous charges.
Time Warner Cable is running a pilot program in Texas where they’re metering your bandwidth usage and charging extra if you exceed your monthly allotment. This also gives them the opportunity to create a tiered system where you pay more for more bandwidth. Richard is a TWC Texas customer, and his story is a good example of how things work in a tiered, metered system like this. The bottom line: if metered broadband comes to your area, get used to paying extra to take advantage of things like Hulu (which is free) or Netflix video streaming (which you already pay for).
Why waste precious cash at Borders and Barnes & Noble when you can go to the library for free? It’s a simple question that is causing traffic local libraries to spike as flocks of new patrons register for library cards. We’ve praised libraries before, but it takes a depressing recession to convince people that yes, even they could use an extra buck in their wallet.
Sure, the Kill-a-Watt power meter is great for helping you measure just how many little lightning bolts your appliances are eating every day (confession: we don’t really know how electricity works), but the new Energy Joule network monitor provides an entirely different level of feedback, so that you can throttle your consumption at times when energy is most expensive.