Today AT&T reported a bunch of data plan changes, perfectly aligned with screwing over people when iPhone OS 4 comes out.
OS 4 will give us tethering ability with AT&T. Of course, that comes with an additional cost now. If you want to "officially" tether with AT&T, you'll have to switch to one of their two data plans, and THEN buy tethering on top of that. Instead of your $30 for unlimited, you'll be paying $45 for only two gigs of bandwidth, vs. $30 currently for unlimited. Or $35 for a measily 250 megs.
They claim that 98% of its users fall within those tiers. Sounds like they're giving 98% of us a way to save a few bucks, right? Wrong. What people are overlooking is the fact that those statistics don't include the fact that you will be TETHERING. As in, your computer will be transferring data, and you're already accustomed to a much heavier data consumption through that medium. Think of how those little widgets on your laptop grab information off the net every so often, or a single Youtube video could easily be 20+ megs. It does add up, and ultimately anyone who wants to tether with AT&T should use it sparsely - otherwise, they'll be paying $10/gig for your overages.
I'll give AT&T some credit - their marketing geniuses and social engineers are gaming this system well - using the upcoming iPhone and OS for service type changes, some of which require contracts, some don't - helping them limit the impact on their network in creative ways while making you think you're getting a better deal. I especially like the fact once you drop out of an unlimited contract you can't go back, and they're trying to sway you out of it by not changing your expiration date if you drop down, and "allowing" you to switch back and forth between the two plans. Oh, and new iPad users? If you don't have a plan by the time OS 4 launches, you'll be subject to these new limits.
Let's face it - AT&T's network can't handle the iPhone. It's a blame game that ultimately both could be doing better at. I'm sure the iPhone could change it's tower-hogging style behavior, and I'm sure AT&T could be deploying all these upgrades they keep telling us about faster.
For me, if I do decide to go with the next iPhone, I won't be buying it with a contract. I'm going to stay a free agent, and not get locked in to a new agreement, and not buy their joke for insurance (monthly fee and still the cost of buying a refurbished unit for the deductable?!) - and I am getting closer every day to switching over to maybe the Evo 4G on Sprint - a hybrid solution with a limited 4g network around the area. Sprint and Verizon seem to have a much more reliable network, and since this device is still primarily a phone, voice calls do count for something. Sprint's at least would afford me faster WiMAX when I could get it, and openly promote the device's ability to share the connection with up to 8? devices.
I haven't investigated the fees, but when I can't go a single day without a dropped call, and I try to find landlines to fall back on where I can instead of my phone, something has got to change.