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AT&T Extorts More Money For iPhone Data Already Paid For, Threatens To Cut Access

I’ve called AT&T customer service (no easy task getting to the right place).

Those poor folks have to do their job in the face of not so gruntled customers; the invidious AT&T leadership gives support staff no options with customers (I asked), so I do my best to be reasonable to the support staff when I call.

Here is an update to what’s below—

  • The tethering plan for a personal WiFi hotspot using the iPhone is $45 month.
  • The tethering plan replaces my unlimited $30 data plan on my iPhone with a 4GB/month plan. I lose the unlimited feature, and I pay $15 more per month. What a great deal— for AT&T. Especially since I’ve been paying for “unlimited” use since the original iPhone on a network good for 1-2K per second.
  • I could keep my iPhone unlimited plan, but put a tethering plan on a different iPhone, for another $45/month. That would also be limited to 4GB/month.

In reality, 4GB/month is enough for my travel needs.

But what does an “unlimited” plan mean when AT&T is free to yank it for an invented “upgrade” purpose by deliberately disabling functionality that worked before? Early adopters are cheated with a fraudulent marketing gimmick that means “unlimited we make it infeasible to keep it”. Surely there’s a good lawyer out there who can reach deep into the pockets of AT&T on this one.

AT&T Extortion letter
AT&T Extortion letter

First post

I’ve been an AT&T customer for years.

  • I’ve paid for an iPhone data plan since the original iPhone.
  • I’ve endured AT&T’s EDGE network at home for years, and still do.
  • I’ve had the regular irritation of receiving AT&T letters advising me of great new 3G service when in fact my area remains on the decade-old EDGE network, which crawls at 1-2K per second of data.
  • I’ve paid for the iPhone data service since day one, but since my neighborhood is still on the EDGE network, the amount of data I use totals perhaps 50MB per month.

Last fall, I discovered that I could use the Mifi Mobile WiFi hotspot to insert the SIM card from my iPhone for temporary internet access while traveling. I’ve used that facility perhaps a dozen times for 20 minutes over the past 6 months.

While using the MiFi, I don’t (and cannot) use my iPhone. I’ve already paid for a data plan, so using the MiFi for brief periods is using data bandwidth that is rightfully mine to use, data that I’ve paid for every month for years.

If AT&T were a gas station, they’d be charging me $75 to fill my tank, but another $50 if I actually wanted to drive somewhere. It’s outrageous.

I blame Apple for this situation. They have the power to extract reasonable terms from AT&T, and to provide iPhone hot spot software that AT&T can’t latch onto.

If ever there was a reason for government regulation (which I loathe in general), I hope the FCC is listening. But they’re busy trying to wreck the internet.

The AT&T extortion letter

AT&T “values” my business so much that they are threatening to cut off my iPhone data access (“may no longer work” means they’re actively gaming to get more money by deliberately killing service— pay up or we break your knees, so to speak). I guess I’ll have to pay up for something I’ll hardly use. I suppose twice-screwed is not that much worse than once-screwed.

It’s offensive to pay full price for a service that can’t be used more than fractionally.

In my area where I spend most of my time, I can barely use the decade-old AT&T EDGE network because data rates are about 1-2K per second, at best. The only time I need “broadband” is when I travel, and when there is 3G service, and that combination is hard to come by, because the AT&T network has spotty low-grade coverage in the areas I travel.

Extortion — oppressive or illegal exaction, as of excessive price or interest: the extortions of usurers.

AT&T’s policies are not illegal, but they are oppressively excessive given the minimal usage I’ve made of data that I’ve already paid for, the minimal usage I can make of it, and the fact that I already paid for data. Data is data, and how one uses paid-for bandwidth should not be up to AT&T to decide.

AT&T Extortion letter
Extortion letter

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