Making 3G Affordable is the Key



The thing that excites me most about this announcement by AT&T Wireless is not the fact that they’ve launched UMTS/W-CDMA in four cities but this:

The company’s wireless broadband service is available to consumers and businesses through a variety of distribution channels or by calling 1-800-844-4813 or visiting Customers can select from any of AT&T Wireless GSM calling plans for voice services and can receive a monthly unlimited enhanced mMode plan for $24.99. Businesses can purchase unlimited data access for $79.99 monthly.

Dude.  Unlimited 220-330 kilobit wireless broadband for $25 a month?  Bring it on!

Having bleeding edge 3G services in place is not enough.  You’ve got to make it affordable enough for actual human users to be able to afford it.  AT&T: this is awesome, keep it up.  I’ve been ragging on them for some time now because their unlimited EDGE plans were hovering around $80 a month or so, and that’s just plain too high.  $25 a month for regular old consumers is perfect.

I’m not sure if AT&T is using the US or UK definition of unlimited.  That remains to be seen.  Even if they cap their unlimited users to a reasonable amount of bandwidth a month, it would be worth every penny of that $25.


Russ clarifies that teathered usage via Bluetooth or a cable will be metered at $0.001/Kb, or about a buck a meg.  Still quite reasonable.  I wonder how they know if you’re teathered or not.  I’m sure Russ will find out in a month.

Another Update:

It appears that Unlimited is a lot more limited than I first thought.  Engadget brings us the sad news:

First, you can only use it if you’re in one of four cities. Next, you can only browse mMode sites. You can’t connect to any other device, you can’t remove your SIM, and you can’t use your SIM in any other device or you will be charged $0.001/KB. Finally and best, you can’t use the service for audio/video content, games, or any other downloads or there will be an additional charge.

The four cities part is a bit “duh” if you had read any of the announcement.  It’s only available in four cities.  The rest of the news is a bit dissapointing.  All of that video conferencing that Russ wants to do is going to cost him a buck a meg.  Connecting via bluetooth is going to cost him a buck a meg.

A buck a meg isn’t really that bad (on par with European GPRS), but you’re going to chew up a lot of megs if you’re connecting your laptop and doing extensive videoconferencing.  If video calling uses the same amount of bandwidth as 3gp video files, it’s probably not going to be that bad.

Still, really unlimited unlimited would have been much better.  AT&T Wireless has slightly less of a clue than I had hoped, though a buck a meg is a step in the right direction.