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Journal: AT&T Should Ditch $30 Unlimited Data
Because Craig Moffett says so...
by Karl Bode 12:14PM Monday May 11 2009
Aside from the 5GB monthly soft cap and a TOS that technically restricts, well, everything, "AT&T doesn't limit how much data can be downloaded," begins a piece in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal has apparently concluded that AT&T's $30 "unlimited" data plan for the iPhone is the worst sort of evil. Since iPhone users spend four times more Internet content than other smartphone users on the $20 plan, they essentially argue AT&T needs to start charging iPhone users more.

The author omits a few things, such as that iPhone users are using Wi-Fi 42% of the time, or that the $30 price point is already a $10 bump from the first generation iPhone. The Journal also ignores the absolutely staggering profits from SMS/MMS, and the fact that AT&T posted a net income of $3.1 billion for just the first three months of the year. That's even after the network upgrades the Journal just got done telling us make unlimited data untenable. Instead, the Journal jumps right to the part where Craig Moffett tells them what to think:
The new networks are likely to be more efficient at delivering data applications. Even so, Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett argues that returns on invested capital related to these new services will be lower than on older services. In the short term, carriers should abandon unlimited data pricing plans. Both AT&T and Verizon Wireless already charge extra for heavy users with wirelessly connected laptops. They will have to contemplate similar strategies for smartphone users.
Sanford Bernstein's Moffett has been making the rounds lately complaining that a wireless apocalypse is afoot, telling any journalist who'll listen that the wireless market is "collapsing" and/or "grinding to a halt." Why? Because as new subscriber growth slows and the market saturates, incredible profits for carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless may soon be downgraded to only somewhat incredible. Carriers may soon have to start competing more heavily on pricing, driving stock prices down. That's great for you, but crappy for Moffett's clients.

You'll note that neither the Journal nor Moffett provide a new business model to replace the $30 unlimited plan, but the intentions are pretty clear if you've been playing along at home. As on the terrestrial broadband front, investors see pure per-byte billing as the solution to all of their future problems, as it lets carriers charge more money for the same or less product (ask Time Warner Cable). Of course as with Mr. Moffett's opinions on network upgrades, what's best for Mr. Moffett quite often isn't what's best for consumers.

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Imperial, MO

2 recommendations

Why is it

Why is it all these analysts always look like such douchebags.