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AT&T: mobile data controls will abide by net neutrality

updated 10:25 am EST, Wed December 9, 2009

ATT exec says 3G limits will be tempered

AT&T will be careful if and when it changes its mobile data services to curb heavy use, the company's wireless chief Ralph de la Vega said today at a UBS conference. The executive reiterated his company's hesitation to commit to a plan but stressed that the carrier would respect net neutrality if it scales back from its current 'unlimited' strategy.

How the carrier will react will depend on system upgrades that track real-time usage, but pricing will be affected not just by regulation but by pressure from outside competitors and how customers react to changes.

De la Vega nonetheless argued that some level of control would be necessary given the disproportionate level of data use. While many existing network upgrades like 850MHz 3G and improved infrastructure are meant to reduce the need for these controls, he insisted that the most demanding AT&T subscribers would have to modify their behavior. Education may play a part as many customers aren't always aware of what constitutes heavy use; many assume that e-mail consumes a lot of data when it's actually audio and video streaming that cause problems, the AT&T official says.

The statements allude to a possible backtracking on AT&T's part from its previous approach to data use on its 3G network. It has admitted that it has blocked specific iPhone apps solely because they use a large amount of data. Policies of the sort have spurred the FCC to consider regulating cellphone traffic as part of its preliminary net neutrality rules to ensure fair treatment for video, VoIP and similar tasks.

by MacNN Staff



  1. sdp4462

    Joined: Dec 1969



    iPhone users pay a MASSIVE amount of money to use bandwidth as they see fit. My contract w/ AT&T never says anything about using data only "as AT&T sees fit and only when convenient for them". I don't care if the company takes a loss in their financials so long as they provide the client with the promised bandwidth/services.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    My contract w/ AT&T never says anything about using data only "as AT&T sees fit and only when convenient for them".

    iPhone users pay a MASSIVE amount of money? Since when is $30 for supposedly 'unlimited' usage a MASSIVE amount of money? The way you make it sound, you had to get a second mortgage just to use an iPhone or something.

    And, in case you missed the memo, every data user at ATT pays the SAME amount of money for 3G access. You're not paying any more than some guy with a black berry, windows mobile, or android phone. (I know, you like to think you're special, but ATT treats all its customers in the same way).

    And you need to read your contract:

    Under the iPhone section:

    Data Plans: ... If it is determined that you are using iPhone or other designated Smartphone or PDA without an eligible data plan, AT&T reserves the right to add an eligible data plan to your account and bill you the appropriate monthly fee. Use of iPhone 3G to access corporate email, company intranet sites, and/or other business applications requires an Enterprise Data Plan for iPhone. For applicable rates, terms and conditions, see AT&T Business Plans for iPhone 3G brochure.

    Then, section 2:

    2) WIRELESS DATA SERVICE TERMS AND CONDITIONS (applies to all customers)

    Prohibited and Permissible Uses: Except as may otherwise be specifically permitted or prohibited for select data plans, data sessions may be conducted only for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email, and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force, and field service automation). While most common uses for Intranet browsing, email and intranet access are permitted by your data plan, there are certain uses that cause extreme network capacity issues and interference with the network and are therefore prohibited. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing; (ii) as a substitute or backup for private lines, landlines or full-time or dedicated data connections; (iii) "auto-responders," "cancel-bots," or similar automated or manual routines which generate excessive amounts of net traffic, or which disrupt net user groups or email use by others; (iv) "spam" or unsolicited commercial or bulk email (or activities that have the effect of facilitating unsolicited commercial email or unsolicited bulk email); (v) any activity that adversely affects the ability of other people or systems to use either AT&T's wireless services or other parties' Internet-based resources, including "denial of service" (DoS) attacks against another network host or individual user; (vi) accessing, or attempting to access without authority, the accounts of others, or to penetrate, or attempt to penetrate, security measures of AT&T's wireless network or another entity's network or systems; (vii) software or other devices that maintain continuous active Internet connections when a computer's connection would otherwise be idle or any "keep alive" functions, unless they adhere to AT&T's data retry requirements, which may be changed from time to time. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited. Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/PDA-to computer accessories, BLUETOOTH® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose. Accordingly, AT&T reserves the right to (i) deny, disconnect, modify and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network, including without limitation, after a significant period of inactivity or after sessions of excessive usage and (ii) otherwise protect its wireless network from harm, compromised capacity or degradation in performance, which may impact legitimate data flows. You may not send solicitations to AT&T's wireless subscribers without their consent. You may not use the Services other than as intended by AT&T and applicable law. Plans are for individual, non-commercial use only and are not for resale. AT&T may, but is not required to, monitor your compliance, or the compliance of other subscribers, with AT&T's terms, conditions, or policies.

    Seems to me they are basically saying "You can do whatever you like, but if we don't like it, you may get cut off".

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