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AT&T’s new data plans

I had to decide tonight whether to write about the new AT&T data plans or a somewhat silly article entitled “Say goodbye to full-time jobs with benefits” on CNNMoney.com.

American businesses seem bent on proving to the American people (many of their CUSTOMERS!) how little they care about them, by offshoring their jobs (1, 2) or by offering them lower wages and contract positions, rather than full-time jobs with benefits.

Although I have some friends who enjoy being contractors (these folks have created their own companies to do so). I do not think that the model generally promotes stability in a society. Companies may not realize that the lives of the WORKERS that they are destabilizing are the very same lives as those of their CUSTOMERS (who may purchase less!), and that by removing benefits like medical and retirement, they are forcing those workers to seek the benefits from government (which might try to recoup losses by further taxing businesses). If you told companies that their actions promote socialism, they would not believe you! Heck, such companies are probably STILL RUNNING Windows! :-)

At least I discovered that CNNMoney.com is intelligent. They are running their Web site on Apache on Linux ! :-) It is pretty easy to gauge corporate intelligence without ever talking to someone.

As for the workers/customers, when they act as workers, they can REFUSE TO PLAY, by starting small businesses of their own or by accepting ONLY full-time employment with benefits. When they act as customers, they can boycott companies or products or just refuse to buy. Period. We have already seen the effect that consumer spending has in a recession.

CNNMoney.com says:

“And as baby boomers reach the age when they are eligible for Medicare and not dependent upon their employer for health insurance, many are more open to contract work.”

Dream on! I will never accept less compensation that I know I am worth without some VERY good reasons. You should not, either. If enough folks do not (or EVEN IF SOME DO), there will be an EXTREME shortage of workers in the U.S., on the basis of demographics, very soon. Companies have still not grasped the implications, for EITHER the labor side or the customer side. (Note added June 7, 2010: Even with all of those people, China appears to be experiencing a labor shortage, TOO! And the cost of labor there is RISING…!)

So, let’s talk about AT&T. :-)

An article, also on CNNMoney,com, about the new AT&T data plans is very informative. In my humble opinion:

  1. THE VERY FIRST THING TO DO IS TO CONFIRM THAT THE NEW PLANS ARE SUBJECT TO THE NEW EARLY TERMINATION FEE (ETF) OF $325 (up from $175) FOR SMARTPHONES/NETBOOKS. I am betting that they are (since the new ETF kicked in on June 1)! If so, it may affect your choice, if you are already an AT&T data customer, or even if you are NOT!
  2. The new data plans do not include an unlimited data option. Read the article for more info.
  3. Data tethering will be available, with the upcoming iPhone OS 4, but tethering will cost an ADDITIONAL $20/month. The $20 tethering fee, if chosen, would wipe the estimated $5-$15 savings estimated for most users under the new plans (which I believe was probably the intent :-) ). (Note added June 6, 2010: Earning AT&T $5 to $15 a month more from EXISTING customers who go with the new contract, while causing them to forfeit “unlimited data….”)
  4. The new AT&T data plans go into effect June 7. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2010 is June 7-11. Steve Jobs usually has something very interesting to say! 😉 You may want to listen to him before making any decisions. I always do.

CNN states:

“Since the iPhone debuted in the summer of 2007, AT&T’s data service has grown by a staggering 5,000%, far exceeding the company’s forecasts by several orders of magnitude, according to AT&T. Though AT&T has largely been able to manage that growth by making billions of dollars of network improvements across the nation, 3G service in New York and San Francisco is notoriously touch and go.”

CNN has a nice tabular comparison of old and new plans for iPhone and iPad. For a comprehensive discussion of overage fees, text descriptions of charges, and estimates for various types of users, see the original article, the CNET “CRAVE” article, and the AT&T pages.

As you might imagine, with cellular data plans, the verbage is much too complicated to reproduce it here! 😉

Also, as with all cellular plans (and especially contracts), READ THE FINE PRINT. :-)

(Note added later June 02, 2010: And Verizon is reportedly testing iPad on its network, which of course is NOT GSM… “curiouser and curiouser.”)

(Note added June 4, 2010: CNET has published an FAQ called “What AT&T’s tiered pricing means for you.”) (Note added June 6, 2010: AT&T’s tiered pricing will not affect me, since I took my last two remaining phone “lines” (one wireless, and one landline) from AT&T over to Verizon last month, realizing a cost saving, and “placing my bet early” as it were.)

-Bill at

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