If you’re a heavy consumer of AT&T’s mobile 3G bandwidth, be prepared to shell out more money for the privilege of the network’s advertised “unlimited internet access” on your smartphone. As AT&T is trying to correct its network problems, mainly in San Francisco and New York, where users have complained that AT&T’s speed and reliability claims are not up to standards, the carrier will be addressing the network fixes by deferring the costs in doing so to power users. According to the carrier, 3% of the network’s mobile data users use about 40% of the carrier’s bandwidth.
Additionally, while we’re talking about network upgrades, the carrier will be upgrading its HSPA 3G network, ahead of its 4G LTE roll out, to download speeds of 7 Mbps. The carrier is boasting that it has a dozen devices in its lineup–including the iPhone 3GS–that can handle the 7 Mbps downloads and that more devices will be coming under way. Of course, if you’re using one of those “advanced devices”–to borrow Verizon Wireless’ lingo–you’ll probably want to use it to the max and consume more data, shifting you into the greedy 3% category.
It looks like the carrier will be using tiered pricing moving into the future, which isn’t a novel idea at all since AT&T already offers a tiered structure on its price: $30 for smartphones and $15 for non-smartphone devices for unlimited data.