Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

AT&T to deliberately slow down cellular network

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 31, 2011

It was only an inevitable matter of time before this happened. With the iPhone, AT&T bit off more than it could chew, and their network in many – if not most -places, still lags behind in quality, performance and reception. They have not invested in their infrastructure, to improve the quality of the network, and consequently, other networks are “nipping at their heels.” In stark contrast, Verizon saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall, and prepared their network for what they strongly suspected would happen.

Though many are not aware of it, regulation of communication carriers – landline, cellular, etc. – is done by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC sets the standards for quality, and ensures those standards are met through regulatory oversight. The cellular network has grown by leaps and bounds, and differs significantly from the landline/wire telephone network. Regulations require the landline/wire network to have numerous backups, re-routing alternatives, and redundancies. There cellular/wireless network has NO such requirement.

If the FCC were to require redundancy and backup/alternative routing, and tower sharing, cellular calls would not be dropped like they are now. It’s not necessarily an issue of not enough towers, per se. But that the companies, because they compete against each other for customers, inevitably cut their own throats when they obtain customers in areas where service is poor, because often, the customers in turn become frustrated and eventually switch carriers, anyway.

Just like with television, the FCC could also require the cellular carriers to adhere to one uniform standard in the type of cellular network. That is, they could require AT&T, Verizon and all other carriers to adhere to one technical type of transmission. That is, rather than allow CDMA, TDMA, GSM, EDGE, etc. to co-exist, they could require all carriers to use GSM. It is legal for the FCC to do that, and is part of their mission and charge.

Philosophically, however, the lack of active regulatory oversight by the FCC is a direct reflection of a political philosophy that at its core says “government is bad and evil,” and seeks to tear down governmental entity and replace it with a so-called “free market.” Such philosophy is in essence however, more closely aligned with, and known as Social Darwinism. And precisely because AT&T is bigger than you, they do what they do, because they can do it by sheer bully power. No law, rule or regulation prevents them from so doing.

Their “Roll Over” air-time minutes program is another example of how they strong-arm consumers. You pay for time, but you don’t use it. Is it still yours? Yes. Why? Because you bought it. But after a year, AT&T deletes your time. Think of unused air-time like a retainer for professional services, and you get the picture.

It could be different.

AT&T to throttle data speeds for ‘unlimited’ hogs

By PETER SVENSSON – AP Technology Writer | AP – Fri, Jul 29, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/t-throttle-data-speeds-unlimited-hogs-212938411.html

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T Inc. said Friday that it’s going to start limiting speeds for the 5 percent of its customers with “unlimited” data smartphone plans who clog the airwaves the most.

The measure will take effect Oct. 1, AT&T said, and is intended to alleviate congestion on the network.

T-Mobile USA already throttles users who go over certain limits for data consumption.

AT&T stopped signing up new customers for “unlimited” plans last year. Instead, it now lets heavy users pay extra when they go over a certain data allotment.

Verizon Wireless also recently stopped signing up new customers for unlimited service.

AT&T says it will warn users when they are approaching joining the top 5 percent, and anyone subject to the speed limits will experience them until the next billing cycle starts.

The Dallas-based phone company says that what puts someone in the top 5 percent is usually streaming video or playing some online games.

AT&T won’t count data use over Wi-Fi, just usage over the cellular network.

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Online:

AT&T statement: http://bit.ly/r4JTVp

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Peter Svensson can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/petersvensson

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