I'm sure some people are going to say the government is overstepping their authority, but in fact, they aren't. Verizon was overstepping their authority in this case.
Everybody has google to thank for this.
It certainly is less than ideal, but I guess that is true of most compromises.
Thankfully and at the moment there are carriers that provide unlimited data like Sprint. We need more of them!
I have a hard time deciding if I want unlimited or not. I certainly don't need unlimited. I know there are people who use 50-100+ GB a month but I don't come anywhere near that and don't want to subsidize those people. I'm perfectly fine with a per GB charge or a decent sized base plan and a reasonable per GB overage. OTOH those caps need to grow every year because in a few years 100 GB a month will probably be today's 200 MB plan. So in that case "unlimited" has some futureproofing to it.
I should mention this occurred right at the same time they were making a big advertising push about how their unlimited data plans were truly unlimited. The fine print was that only phones got unlimited data. Hotspots and other data devices were pushed onto a limited plan even if you started out unlimited. Fuck Sprint some more.
That's a hell of a rent-seek for "-j MASQUERADE" at the bottom of it all. Sigh. jailbreak. This sure is going to seem quaint to our kids.
That said, you can tether over USB or bluetooth with PdaNet or FoxFi without paying any fees or rooting the phone.
Even if anyone can use that spectrum, can't I charge someone for using my data network across that spectrum? I mean, presumably, Verizon is providing the endpoint you're connecting to.
"The FCC concedes that Verizon may charge $20 per month for customers who retain grandfathered unlimited data plans."
So I won't be benefitting from this. The most ridiculous, bullshit part of all of this is that unlimited plans aren't unlimited anyway. They have "Fair Access Policy" data caps (5GB for Verizon IIRC) that are just like the modern plans with a tad higher caps. They just advertise differently. It's the same damn thing. And I don't get free tethering. Ridiculous.
Now that might have sent a significant message with respect to ending this kind of bullshit, and to deliberately -- I'd argue, maliciously -- pushing the limits of what they can get away with.
I don't know how many users actually knuckled under to these fees. But even it it didn't represent an enormous amount of revenue, refunding it would have been a nice exercise for their management and administration to undergo. (I don't care how much of a "hassle" it might cause them.)
Your suggestion doesn't go far enough. If I were Verizon playing with these rules, I'd still try to collect fees. If were caught, I'd refund those fees and go about my business. No harm, no foul.
My point is that it's not really a penalty to just refund the money you took illegally. There must be punitive damages to make the risk of breaking the law more than just a profit or break even proposition. It should be a profit or lose more money than the risk is worth proposition for companies.
(That is, if your contract includes an arbitration clause)
The reason they do it is, of course, that they can. I call it a shakedown, but lawyers may have another name.
The next would be to somehow abolish the per-device data fee structure. We have seven iOS devices. Only three are actively online. Even at that, when at home, office or near wifi cellular data does not get used much if a all. Still, we have to pay 3x the cellular data monthly fee, which is insanity. I do understand the technical and business issues here, but this cuts both ways: I know that we are not using these connections anywhere near capacity. And, I also know that ATT is double charging us because our DSL services (office and home) are with them...yet we don't get a discount when the iOS devices use the network for data as opposed to cellular. In other words, they get to charge us for something that we don't use or, seen another way, we pay twice for the same data capacity.
Not sure what the solution might look like, but today's plans are starting to smell bad.
With a CATV subscription, you can hook up an essentially unlimited number of TVs. You could in theory watch every channel 24/7 for the same basic rate. The basic costs associated with cable are related to the infrastructure to bring the signal to your house, plus whatever licensing fees for content that are essentially passed through.
With Internet plans, we are charged repetitively for multiple devices, and in essence you are basically discouraged (throttling, excess usage fees) from actually using the service to 100% of the contracted rates over the billing period.
For example, I have on my account 2 iPhones with data plans (mine, wife's), 1 with tethering (mine), and 1 4G USB dongle. I went over the 5G limit on the dongle, but both of the basic data plans on the iPhones were under budget for the month, and I hardly used the tethering. Do you think I'll get a break from Verizon, or any kind of 'net usage' billing for the overage on the 4G dongle?
As others have pointed out in other threads, the mobile Internet space is ripe for disruption. It's not going to come from 2 college drop-outs on a $15,000 Y Combinator budget, but it's going to happen as soon as the economy lights up a little bit and we get some real infrastructure investment rolling.
If you are using an iOS device to download a 100MB game app over WiFi via AT&T DSL --that you pay for-- while, at the same time paying for a cellular data plan, AT&T is making making more money on you because their cellular data bandwidth is not being utilized by they still charge you.
I would venture to say that most iOS devices spend the bulk of their time within WiFi zones (AT&T or not). This means that a portion of what AT&T charges for cellular data is never actually used and that is pure profit for them.
As I said in my post: I don't know what the right solution is, but the current setup is starting to smell pretty bad.
If the above example doesn't do it for you, think about this. Twenty people working at a company. The company pays (maybe through AT&T) for Internet access and provides WiFi to all employees. Every single one of them has a personal iPhone. Every single one of them pays for a cellular data plan. And, while at work, every single one of them is using the WiFi access point for the bulk of the data traffic on their devices. AT&T is making a nice profit on data bandwidth they never have to deliver over the cellular network.
Later on, those same people go home and are likely to transfer data over their own (paid) DSL connection rather than use cellular data. Again, double charging by the telcos, if you will.
Once you do the math past a single iPhone the effect starts to become obvious very quickly.
Maybe what I am saying is that if I am paying AT&T for cellular data as well as DSL I should receive a credit on my cellular data plan for the data moved over DSL as opposed to the cell network. Again, I don't know the first thing about their business equation, so I'll be the first one to admit that this proposal could be beyond ridiculous for a hundred and one reasons.
If you really hate it that much, and claim that you effectively never use it, then get a phone plan without data and just use your wifi. Problem solved.
The thing is, you do use your cellular data, and maintaining that service is more than just pushing a few ones and zeros.
I am having trouble finding where in my post I said anything about using a service to saturation.
Your post is complaining about paying for unused data, and why can't you just pay for the data you're actually using - in short, you want a plan that you saturate and just want to pay for that.
Nope. Sorry. Didn't say that. This is your interpretation and nothing more. And that's OK.
All I am saying is that I a starting to think that we are over-paying for connectivity. I don't know exactly where or how, but something about it just feels wrong. I can't point to it directly because in order to do that I'd have to know more about the internal numbers of a telco. I don't have that data. For all I know we are getting a deal. I am more than willing to concede that. But I need data.
Right now, without said data it feels very much that paying $250 per month for connectivity when most of the data is going over DSL is not quite a good fit.
Obviously we all (or most) have a need for cellular data outside WiFi zones. The question is how much and whether or not pricing is fair. I don't have the answers, just an overall feeling of rotten tomatoes somewhere.
Your suggestion that I personally drop cellular data has nothing whatsoever to do with the idea that cellular data might not be priced correctly in the context of multiple devices and the availability (and payment for) parallel connectivity over DSL/WiFi.
In other words, whether I personally drop cellular data service or not has no effect over whether or not cellular data is correctly priced.
So, I guess I am not getting your point. Does cellular data service become fairly priced for everyone else if I -single handedly- drop my service?
I'm also not understanding the difference between "wanting to pay for a group plan that's only big enough to avoid saturation" and "paying too much for data we're not using over multiple devices". They seem to be two different ways of referring to the same thing.
Does cellular data service become fairly priced for everyone else if I -single handedly- drop my service?
I wasn't saying that. I was saying that since you were implying that you don't use cellular data, just drop the plan and move wholly to wifi. It was a solution to your stated problem.
I also said that of course that wasn't the case - which was why I then talked about connectivity rather then simple ones and zeroes.
Is wireless data priced correctly? How long is a piece of string?
we don't get a discount when the iOS devices use [Wi-Fi] for data as opposed to cellular
Sure you do; that data doesn't eat into your cellular cap. Effectively cellular is ~$6/GB and DSL is <$1/GB.
I think the furthest I would go in that direction would be to require companies that control a large percentage of nationwide spectrum to sell access to their towers at regulated rates.
Why not remove the monopoly?
I would love clarification.
But I know how to solve this. Someone needs to become the defacto wireless network that focuses on the network (reliability, bandwidth) and doesn't deal with consumers. Instead they resell to companies who deal with consumers.
Wonder if I could do a KS campaign...
There are resellers that focus on data, however...Clear is one. They aren't great (they share the Sprint Network, which is very bad in some places, and fair to middling in most), and they reportedly throttle some high usage customers (I've not run into this, though the times when I've needed a lot of data, Clear couldn't provide it anyway, even without throttling), but they don't regulate what you run on the network. All my devices, including phone, connect through it when I'm on the road.
If what you're implying is that you believe in the ability of the free market to solve the problem, then first we would need free the wireless phone market.
It doesn't, but simple economics will prevent the price going up on all data plans as much as Verizon was charging for tethering.
Install the Foxfi app, it's free and gives you wifi tethering on Verizon Android devices.
> Depending on your device, as we've seen, that could take years.
The FCC should decide on a reasonable timeframe, and fine them for every day over that that they still charge for it. Verizon can argue that the updates come from the handset manufacturers, but the restriction was put there at Verizon's behest, so they can really only blame themselves.
1. They can't block devices that offer free tethering
2. They can't block free tethering applications
This doesn't say "they can't charge for wi-fi tethering".
Just that they can't stop others from offering it for free.
In fact, it specifically allows them to continue to charge folks on unlimited usage plans for tethering (though folks can terminate that plan without a termination fee)
The zdnet quote that says verizon no longer charges is just a note in the order.
In particular, it could mean customers who would never use tethering wind up paying incrementally more, because all plans now include that capability, and Verizon still has sufficient pricing power make up the loss from tethering fees with other incremental fee increases.
But if you have usage-based pricing (which Verizon does), it doesn't matter whether that 4GB originates from an iPhone or a MBP. A packet is a packet and it costs the same to route.
I suppose you could argue that Verizon incurs some additional support burden for tethering. I question whether or not this support burden outweighs the costs of supporting people who call in expecting to be able to tether now.
So any criticism of differentiated pricing based solely on the idea that "a packet is a packet and it costs the same to route" may be astute in the static, technical dimension -- but naive in the ultimately more-important dynamic economic and business dimensions.
We're not talking about some cable in the ground upon which Verizon exerts a legal property interest. We're talking about the airwaves that are the permanent heritage of the taxpayer (or arguably land owner), which we as a landlord collectively and temporarily rent out for our sole benefit, in an adversarial negotiation. The whole point of a negotiation is to increase your own margins, often at the expense of the other party's. To say our analysis does this is to say it represents our interests.
Potentially, but I think it's a fair bet that a lot of people with data plans don't use nearly 4GB. Will that set overlap significantly with the set of customers who tether? Hard to say.
To give you a perspective: Tethering is available in India with every single connection. You just need a supporting phone (USB or WiFi). The plans are all capped there but so are most plans here. You guys seriously have to wake up and realise that you are severely restricted on everything from which phones you can buy to how you use your phone and what apps are installed. I mean, seriously!
Further, there are some of the 90% of customers who valued tethering, but wouldn't pay $20 for it. They might tolerate a $5-$10 rise in base rates without switching. Then, there are others of the 90% who could also tolerate a $5-10 increase in base rates, and still others who would be lost at each level of increase.
The exact net effect will change based on how many customers fall into which ranges of price-tolerance behavior, but the fact that the base rates now provide an extra value, that some were willing to pay $20 for, strongly suggests some increase in base rates, greater than $0 and less than $20, would be the new profit-maximizing rate for Verizon. And thus everyone who doesn't want tethering at any price loses out.
Regulations which prevent differentiated pricing can often help the high-end customers -- in this case richer people with multiple devices -- by preventing their willingness-to-pay-more from subsidizing the overall service. They may not help the price-sensitive and more likely to be poor customers. Thus the cheering of this regulatory action on some boards (including here) should not be taken as a proof of net consumer benefit. Just that it benefits rich heavy-tethering users.
For example, your analysis could also apply to differentiated pricing of books. Some people are less price-sensitive, and would pay more if you could manage to charge them in a different tier: say, people buying books charged to their company, or to a university research grant. If you could do that, the base price for poorer people buying books might well be lower. But when Amazon experimented with per-user pricing based on analytics, people got really angry, as it seemed to be removing the idea that books have transparent prices.
Of course, there's often differentiated pricing by differentiating the products, even slightly: SaaS service tiers, limited edition books, hardcover v. softcover, etc. But when the identical product is being priced differently in an attempt to maximize profit in different demographics, it seems worse somehow, like a shopkeeper quoting you different prices based on how you dress (which does happen in countries with haggling-oriented pricing systems, but is contrary to the American expectation of advertised uniform prices).
Most people don't get that deep into it -- and if they do, there are so very many Apple and subscription-service pricing oddities they can also get worked up about.
Also, the ones most likely to apply a 'packets are packets' reasoning are the richer/sophisticated/multidevice/heavy-users, who also on another dimension are most willing to pay for the time-savings and OS-integration of an official solution.
As someone currently paying for Verizon/iOS tethering support, I do perceive a differentiation against an app-store or commodity-bandwidth offering, or using my own Apple Developer License to compile iProxy/iphone-socks-proxy. I get one-click activation, in the OS settings panel, along a path that Apple/Verizon have designed and support.
Having that kind of view does correlate with being a heavier user, but I think also has an independent basis in technical/political ideals of what the internet should be, i.e. the correlation is due to a common underlying cause. I think it's probably not strong enough to dissuade that activity through market forces, though, because the percentage of users who have that technical knowledge and those technical ideals is quite small.
I'm one example, I think: I'm wary of both tethering charges and of some content providers' attempts to market-segment iPad content, and I own neither a smartphone nor an iPad, so it's not really based on saving me money.
(Offtopic edit: Huh, are you the same 'gojomo' from Bitzi? If so, I'm the 'delirium' that contributed some code to the Bitzi Bitcollider something like 10 years ago, to extract video metadata. Thought that handle sounded familiar.)
(I am the Bitzi gojomo! Seeing your comments here, I figured you were the same delirium... thanks for your contributions so many years ago!)
When the minority is sufficiently small, the pennies you move the profit maximizing point by aren't enough to justify the groan factor you have to deal with, hence I doubt the rate changes. We'll see I guess.
> During the last two decades, the FCC has manufactured the idea that the electromagnetic spectrum used by wireless devices is scarce. Spectrum auctions became another way to restrain trade. Deep pocket operators, like AT&T and Verizon Wireless, overbid for spectrum and then pass along high costs to the consumer in the form of $40 monthly fees and cryptic calling plans. It's a longer conversation, but with the right network architecture, smart devices can be programmed to share huge swaths of spectrum without interfering with other users. If we do it with Wi-Fi for data, we can certainly do it for phone calls.
That said, it's been almost six months since the new iPad came out and AT&T has yet to include tethering, so I don't think they see tethering to iPad that huge a selling point. (in fact, I don't think they even have a way of letting you pay for tethering if you're on an iPad's prepaid data).
Has anyone contacted Verizon Wireless to get official word if the free tethering has gone into effect?
Has anyone gotten official word from Verizon Wireless if CDMA tethering will be free, also?
Note: I am aware these are 700mhz restrictions. Note my use of "official word" above.
As the iPhone/iPad are non-LTE, CDMA-only devices; I don't foresee this ruling impacting the current restrictions that bar the entry-level 2GB data plans from having tethering support.
Basically it's extortion.
Here's something that congress should do. Telecom companies are government-granted monopolies. Why not acknowledge that it's already not a free market situation and cap the profit margin that these companies are allowed to operate at (like they're doing with health insurance now)?
It's insane that 5GB bandwidth/month is $50. It's insane that text messages are so expensive. It's insane that the fee to enter into a new 2-year discounted phone contract isn't proportional to the amount of money the company has recouped on the original phone.
You could argue that cellular networks should only be allowed to be dumb pipes because they are a government-granted monopoly (of spectrum). That would put them in a similar place as a utility like your electric company, sort of quasi-private but heavily regulated.
That makes sense, but OTOH utilities are notorious for stupid bureaucracy and being slow to evolve... So would they still deploy new stuff like LTE quickly? Would they still subsidize phones?
I'm not sure of the answer, but I think that's what the real debate should be if you don't want them creating "artificial fees", ie segmenting customers by value.
Is subsidizing phones actually a good idea?
To me, it is one features of the US mobile phone market that looks particularly unhealthy. For instance, the subsidy is biggest reason cellular networks can start messing around with what you can and can't run on your phone in the first place. Otherwise, if you didn't like how your carrier crippled your phone, you'd wouldn't buy your phone from them (at least for AT&T and T-Mobile, though I suspect competitive pressure would drag Verizon, Sprint and the rest along, for the most part).
I would argue that the benefits of low bandwidth prices for the rest of the economy outweighs the benefits from the current telecom profits.
GSM was developed and initially deployed mainly by the old european government telecoms before privatization took hold in Europe.
I use Sprint which has unlimited data and unlimited data is a very good sign that competition still exists in the wireless market. Once it goes, perhaps it will be time to start thinking about even more regulation.
I'm not some free open market type either. I'm pissed off about "Obamacare" only because it doesn't go far enough.
My concern is that the fees being imposed on consumers are instituted just because they can be and because competition is artificially limited, not to generate revenue so they can provide better service to consumers/attract new customers.
Like I said, it's already a non-free market in the telecom sector; just a matter of how deep down the rabbit hole you want to go in terms of regulation and dictation.
I don't pretend to know what the best course of action is... just spitballing.
And no you didn't always pay for data per KB plans often included tethering while "unlimited" plans charged extra.
I've been sent to credit agencies for bills I had paid on more than one occasion for the same paid bills and my accounts have been switched with other family members by Verizon on purpose taking over 20 calls and hours to resolve.
tl;dr: Verizon's service has always been shit. The FCC and our government need to step it up. Hard to do when you're in Verizon's pockets.