I’m fine with AT&T moving to a tiered pricing schedule for the data plans it offers to mobile customers. They have no obligation to offer an unlimited plan, and both of the new plans are cheaper than the old unlimited plan. The people who use a whole lot of data are going to be unhappy, but given AT&T’s capacity problems, implementing even this rudimentary version of congestion pricing should help them out a little bit.
That said, AT&T is implementing two downright customer-hostile policies that show that they look at your wallet the way BP looks at an oil reserve. The first is the extra charge for tethering. Charging $20 a month for tethering would be fine in conjunction with an unlimited data plan. Using tethering will probably increase overall data usage. But once AT&T has contracted with a customer to sell them a specific amount of bandwidth, they ought to be allowed to use that bandwidth in whatever way they choose. Despite AT&T’s arguments to the contrary, charging extra for tethering is just a way to extract more money from existing customers.
The second affront is the schedule of fees for overages on the 200 megabyte a month Data Plus plan. It seems reasonable to me that if you exceed your 200 megabyte limit for the month, AT&T should bump you up to the 2 gigabyte Data Pro plan for that month and charge you $25. That’s not the way it works. AT&T will charge you an additional $15 for every 100 megabytes you use over the limit. Felix Salmon has more.
AT&T is able to implement charges like these because of their US monopoly on the iPhone. Thanks, Apple.