Facing criticism that even the minimum iPhone monthly bill is too high for many consumers, AT&T is reportedly thinking about cutting its prices. The big rumored change is that AT&T would apparently offer a limited data package for $20-a-month, a $10-a-month reduction over the current all-you-can-eat plan. This makes me laugh because AT&T clearly thinks consumers are stupid.
If AT&T really wanted to reduce monthly iPhone bills it could do something very simple: Start including SMS plans in its unlimited data plans. After all, SMS is data, yet it conveniently falls outside of AT&T’s unlimited service. The reason for this is obvious: Text messages are an absolute cash cow for AT&T and the other carriers. They are also an absolute rip-off, as they cost the carriers next to nothing to transmit. Instead of just folding these SMS fees into the unlimited data plans like rival Sprint does, AT&T wants to pretend to save consumers money by offering a limited data package for $10 less a month. What a joke.
Ever since the launch of the iPhone 3G, AT&T has been fleecing customers with text messaging fees. With the first version of the iPhone, users at least got to send 200 text messages for free with their unlimited data plans. With the iPhone 3G’s updated date plan (which was still just as “unlimited” but with faster download speeds), AT&T cut out all free texts and made users pay at least $5-a-month, unless they wanted to pay the utterly ridiculous $0.20 per text. So basically, that was AT&T jacking up the price of the iPhone plans by at least $5 right there. And many people, myself included, use way more than 200 messages, so it’s more like an extra $15-$20-a-month for either 1500 messages or unlimited messages. Again, a joke when we’re already paying for an “unlimited” data plan.
Worse, is that a lot of people pay the $5-a-month for the 200 texts, and then go way over, meaning they’re paying a lot more than even an extra $20-a-month for unlimited SMS. So while AT&T reducing data plans by $10-a-month may seem significant, on a month-to-month basis with the SMS fees, it’s really not. And worse, this cheaper iPhone data plan would be limited, and users are probably going to go over that limit as well, which will likely end up costing them more than the $10 they’re saving a month.
This “price cut” is pure spin by AT&T. I’m not even convinced that this cheaper plan will be cheaper for anyone in the long run. If it really wanted to reduce the price of the iPhone data plans, it would eliminate the text message fees. And I’m fine if it wants to offer a plan which is the same as the current prices with unlimited text messaging bundled-in, and then offer a cheaper one without the messages included. That’s how it should be. Their “unlimited” plan is a joke.