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iPhone data plan

Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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Last week, AT&T announced they will not have the unlimited data plan for new iPhone customers. Reference to article

Proposed plans are
$15 - 200 MB
$25 - 2 GB
$35- 3 GB

For those who have an iPhone, is 2 GB a lot? It doesn't sound like a lot given all the apps around, but I'm curious what actual iPhone owners think.


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Pat Farrell
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Joined: Aug 11, 2007
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    5

While I don't have an iPhone (yet, there is an announcement this week) I think the rates are actually fair. And all of this is just temporary, the GSM world, G3 data rates, etc are all going away in a few years. So look at this in light of how you are using things today, and will use them over the next year or two.

From what AT&T says, the 2 GB per month limit will handle 90% or maybe 95% of all current users. And if you have the 2GB/m plan, additional chunks of 2GB/m are fairly priced.

While consumers love flat rates, they are actually a bad deal for the users, as they are set much higher (in bandwidth and price) than the majority of users need. The tiered pricing lets folks who use a little pay less, and those who pay more pay more.

Anyone who has dealt with serious web server vendors, co-location sites, ISPs, etc. knows that there are no flat rates on bandwidth usage. If you run a non-trivial website, the monthly cost of the bandwidth is usually much more than the cost of space, security, power, etc. let alone any amortized cost of the servers. Most commercial server vendors charge for bandwidth used, typically at 95% of the monthly peak, so that it approximates your real load on the pipes, switches, routers, etc.

In a few years, LTE will replace all this stuff, it will be a completely new game. The standards are set, the vendors are committed, but it will cost many billions of dollars in the US, and perhaps a few hundreds of billions of dollars to roll it out world-wide. So its not going to happen tomorrow.

I recommend that folks think hard about how many videos they want to watch on their smartphones over the cell network. If you do most of it over WiFi, there is still no cost.

Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8915
    
    8

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
For those who have an iPhone, is 2 GB a lot?


It depends on what you use it for. Checking Facebook a couple times a day? You'll probably never hit the limit.
Listening to 128kbps streaming audio? Depending on the stream, network conditions, compression and so on, I figure I could burn through 2GB in less than 4 work days.
As Pat said, using WiFi where available is the smart thing to do. Of course, I have an HTC Incredible on Verizon, so I still have unlimited data (for now (crossing fingers (love my streaming radio))).


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Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30586
    
154

That assumes wifi is unlimited. What happens if the ISP decides to throttle too? (I don't have an iPhone; so this is curiousity; not a problem.)

Pat: The 4G thing is interesting.
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8915
    
    8

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:That assumes wifi is unlimited. What happens if the ISP decides to throttle too?


It would take a lot of guts for the cell company to charge you for using your own (or your employer's or coffee house's) wireless connection.
But I wouldn't put it past 'em!
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Pat: The 4G thing is interesting.

Actually "4G" is a nothing. Its a marketing buzzword. 3G was a real standard, and got a lot of coverage, so the marketoids just invented 4G as the next great thing.

The real standard is LTE. This is really not what Sprint is selling as 4G, Spring went with what could be faster than 3G and done quickly. And it is being rolled out today, and sold today, whereas LTE is a few years off. Of course, Sprint will have to change to LTE in a while, but their bet is that they can gather sales today by offering 4G, make enough money to play with the big boys.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30586
    
154

Joe Ess wrote:It would take a lot of guts for the cell company to charge you for using your own (or your employer's or coffee house's) wireless connection.
But I wouldn't put it past 'em!

Not the cell phone company. The supplier of your personal (home) wireless connection. I currently pay for "unlimited" connectivity on that.
marc weber
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 31, 2004
Posts: 11343

On my iPhone, I use the following data apps...

...several times each day: Safari, Mail, and Facebook.
...about once a day: WeatherBug Elite, New York Times, NPR News.
...a couple times per week: Wikipanion, Maps, Shazam, iDisk, YouTube, eBay, and Stocks.

With these, I run about 70 MB per month.


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Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:That assumes wifi is unlimited. What happens if the ISP decides to throttle too? .

A fair number of US based ISPs throttle if you use too much bandwidth at once, such as using a lot of bittorrent.

Actually, throttling is usually separate from having a fixed limit per month in the amount of bandwidth, as the ISPs are usually talking about X megabytes per second over Y time. At a higher level, 2GB / month is a speed limit, but your instantaneous speed is often a ton more than what 2gb is divided by the number of seconds in a month.

In my home, I get between 1 and 5 MB/s effective download and nearly 1 MB/s upload. Since there are 86400 seconds in a day, running at 1MB/s would mean 86GB per day or a bit over 2.500 GB per month. There is zero chance that I could actually use 2.5 TB/month without hearing from my ISP. Even a commercial co-lo site will charge for that much.

Just to keep the ISPs confused, I seed all of the debian and ubuntu distribution ISO files in my house, 24/7. Reduces loads on the primary servers, and provices proof that some bittorrent traffic is proper, open source stuff.
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8915
    
    8

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:
Joe Ess wrote:It would take a lot of guts for the cell company to charge you for using your own (or your employer's or coffee house's) wireless connection.
But I wouldn't put it past 'em!

Not the cell phone company. The supplier of your personal (home) wireless connection. I currently pay for "unlimited" connectivity on that.


ISP's have tried tiered plans in the past. It seems that a competitor quickly offers "unlimited" data and the tiered plan falls by the wayside. As Pat pointed out, people prefer to overpay for flat-rate plans. Why? It's easier than try to keep track of use and deal with overage charges (like with cell phone voice call minutes).
It will be interesting to see if ATT's market share declines with this new data plan structure now that Android phones are competitive with iPhones.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Joe Ess wrote:ISP's have tried tiered plans in the past. It seems that a competitor quickly offers "unlimited" data and the tiered plan falls by the wayside.

I think this will be interesting to watch. Back when the ISPs first tried this, the competition was AOL and CompuServ that charged per minute of usage. The local ISPs quickly added "per month" pricing, and that drove Compuserv to be bought by AOL, and for AOL to adopt flat monthly fees.

The DSL vendors tried to do tiers and competition killed that idea. But back then, there was real competition. In my town, and most others in the US, there are only two choices, the local cable TV vendor, and the local telco. When you have only two, its close enough to a monopoly that usual rules don't apply.

With cell/iPad, we have some token competition, but they all come from the cell phone companies, and they are really, AT&T and Verizon. Verizon was the merged result of most of the local telco's in the East and mid-West, and AT&T is the merged result of the West Coast and South. While they do overlap some, its still just two companies, and they are all telcos. Sprint and T-Mobile are so far behind AT&T and Verizon that they hardly count, and even they are left over Telco, Sprint once was Southern Pacific Bell and T-Mobile is the German Telco monopoly, Deutsche Telekom

-- Sorry for all the non-US members of Java Ranch, I don't have any idea how the rest of the world does cell phone data plans
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 15299
    
    6

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:That assumes wifi is unlimited. What happens if the ISP decides to throttle too? (I don't have an iPhone; so this is curiousity; not a problem.)

Pat: The 4G thing is interesting.


But you do have an iPad, right? And a 3G one at that? Though you may have been grandfathered in, this change also effects iPad users.


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Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Gregg Bolinger wrote:But you do have an iPad, right? And a 3G one at that? Though you may have been grandfathered in, this change also effects iPad users.

Er, AT&T announced that of you ever change anything on your iPad account, then the grandfathering stops and you get the joy of the new pricing.
Also, any iPad bought after today has no choice.

I also here that AT&T's account management website got crushed by traffic today. Not an evil Denial of Service attack, just too many people trying, and crashing the servers. Net result is still that users are denied service.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30586
    
154

Gregg Bolinger wrote:But you do have an iPad, right? And a 3G one at that? Though you may have been grandfathered in, this change also effects iPad users.

I have an iPad, but not 3G. This doesn't affect me, I'm just curious.
 
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