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AT&T CEO Stephenson: Unlimited data was a mistake

0. phoneArena 05 May 2012, 03:34 posted on

AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson told a crowd at the Milken Institute's Global Conference that offering unlimited data plans was a mistake and that messaging systems that bypass SMS plans like iMessage are disruptive...

This is a discussion for a news. To read the whole news, click here

posted on 05 May 2012, 04:02 8

1. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)

There was a Cingular in Need for Speed Underground 2, was it that AT&T?

posted on 05 May 2012, 04:30

2. abhishekrocks (Posts: 6; Member since: 19 Apr 2012)

i was thinking the same

posted on 05 May 2012, 04:56 19

3. GuiltyBystander (Posts: 199; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)

Randall Stephenson was a mistake.

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:46 7

18. tedkord (Posts: 11554; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

Not just as in AT&T should have never made him CEO, but as in his mother should have squatted over a dumpster when her water broke. Every time this over privileged, under talented, whiny little turd talks, I wish someone would punch him in the throat.

posted on 05 May 2012, 12:55 1

29. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)

It seems like Stephenson has an incurable case of sour grapes. I wonder how long before AT&T's Board of Directors realizes his case of sour grapes is not serving the company and it is time to find another CEO?

posted on 06 May 2012, 13:48

58. crysiswarmonger (Posts: 78; Member since: 06 Feb 2012)

Randall whined "u guys are running my plans to make billions in collusion with other phone companies to rip u all off on sms text. i am too stupid to know how to make this work..."

tired of these morons running companies

posted on 05 May 2012, 05:15 5

4. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)

Well be that as it is there is probley tons of other stuff that can be done to get more money out of the consumer. I am pretty sure they were making alot of money back than and they would now without tiered plans. They through big numbers out there like oh wow such a big numbers. It's all smoke and mirrors. The guys admitting all he wants to do is make more money not provide better service. While that's a givin you don't admit that and realy you need to start widening the band width becaus sooner rather than lator 5gb of downloading a month is not gona do and the company that does start offering what the consumer wants will eventually go to that company. For one thing how can Verizon for instance say there gonna run out of 4g bandwidth soon but than lease some of it away. It's the same for other situations. Where does cricket get there's from. It's alot of smoke and mirrors and they do try to get us believing about as much as they can. There is probably is not a bandwidth problem out there just like the electricity scam about ten or so years ago that caused the brown outs in California wich mad the price of electricity go sky high making tons of money for power company's.. Wich Enron I believe was apart of. There was atliest three large aluminum companies in my area that stopped making aluminum because they ought the power and a set price over a certain amount of years and it made more money selling the power back than from making aluminum. Thos companies are long gone now by the way. Heck google does not even sell a product and makes tons of money. I realy think AT&T and alot of companies make poor decisions or siphon way to much money out of the companies in wich they do get tax breaks and then the consumer pays the bill. Getting of track here but. I really can't wait till a company comes along and offers the data we need. Wich i think somthing like a huge network of wifi hotspots that blanket a town can be a place to get bandwidth. I realy do think this bandwidth thing is a scam.

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:08 2

10. ontapbjt (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 May 2012)

No, the bandwidth thing is not a scam. I live in a small rural town where up until a year ago I had some semblence of 3G data service, albeit a bit slow. At that point it all went downhill. Why? The influx of data users on the network. The existing towers can't handle the amount of data that is being used. Today I barely get dial-up speeds for data. In fact it averages less than 28kbs download speeds. Verizon knows about it and they are going to have to spend money to upgrade the towers. Money, by the way, that doesn't grow on trees. It would be really nice if every corporation in America had a printing press so that they could just print money and give stuff out for free, like the government (not free, we are all paying). Free cellphones, free data, free healthcare. Shame on those bastards at AT&T for trying to turn a profit.

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:13 6

12. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

lol, none of that is free. they steal from the people that work and give to the lazy asses that refuse to.

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:36 5

17. Non_Sequitur (Posts: 1111; Member since: 16 Mar 2012)

Exactly, remix. When what ontapbjt says happens, the country turns to communism. Some people work hard, but still get the same amount as those who don't. Then everyone refuses to work and country go boom.

posted on 05 May 2012, 10:16 7

20. tedkord (Posts: 11554; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

No, shame on AT&T for not building out their network while making billions in profit a year. Shame on them for relying on a duopoly creating merger to add bandwidth, and lying to the government and public about the job creation from such a merger. And, shame on them for guaranteeing T-Mo $4 billion if the deal didn't go through - that is enough to show that Stevenson isn't qualified to run a major corporation. Anyone with half a brain knew this wasn't going to be an easy sell, and would most likely be squashed.

posted on 05 May 2012, 13:08 1

30. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

well, the 4 billion is a saftey net to make up for lost customers during the pre-merger. Business DROPPED like a rock when people thought we were turning into ATT. Its amazing how many people out there hate ATT, but yet stay with them.

posted on 05 May 2012, 11:47 1

24. chadrick0814 (Posts: 209; Member since: 23 Nov 2011)

I'm not sure "free" data was mentioned. I believe "unlimited" data plans that are paid for by consumers are the topic. I also believe the healthcare system mentioned is done by purchasing through private insurance companies. In fact, it will probably be unconstitutional because of individual mandates forcing people to BUY it....making it not free. But hey, don't let facts get in the way of good propaganda.

posted on 06 May 2012, 01:40

50. Forsaken77 (Posts: 553; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)

He's was talking about spectrum, but just mistakenly called it bandwidth instead. You're talking about tower capacity, which is totally different. That has nothing to do with spectrum allocation. Being you live in a really rural area, there's probably like 2 towers feeding your whole town; and those towers weren't allocated alot of bandwidth because the number of users in your area is so small. When the user amount goes up (read: the complaining to cell carrier increases) then they'll eventually get their slow asses out their and upgrade it.

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:11 3

11. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

a lot* x3
throw, not through
going* x2
which* x4
at least*
really* x2

you get an F, for failure.

posted on 05 May 2012, 06:36 7

5. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)

I can usually gauge when I regret something by one thing...was I leaning one way or another when it came to that decision. I don't think this is something that he should regret at all.

Despite what people may think, there were smartphones before the iPhone. There were many smartphones before then and they all ran on unlimited data. But somehow they were able to exist without breaking down any of the networks because usage wasn't that high. Even when the original iPhone debuted, data consumption was somewhat low. The iPhone held its ranks amongst Blackberrys, Palms, and Windows Mobile devices. It wasn't really until the iPhone 3G and more directly, the iPhone 3GS that AT&T started seeing people gobbling data down like they were at a buffet. No one could have predicted that given the same functions (other than HTML browsing) that people would change this dramatically.

But even if someone whispered in Stephenson's ear telling him the future, AT&T would have been murdered by angry customers. Back then, we were nowhere near ready to hear about tiered data plans. Verizon, Sprint, Alltel, and T-Mobile would have scoffed at AT&T. And I'm not sure people would have stood for it either. Remember, back then everyone didn't have an iPhone. It wasn't until we went through the congestion and obvious data lag that we understand why tiered pricing is desired by AT&T. And although we hate it...we understand.

I wouldn't regret the unlimited plan because back when the decision was made...whodathunk the iPhone would change everything when it came to data consumption?

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:16 7

14. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

back when unlimited plans were the norm, the average user used less than 500mb a month by far. Blackberrys, the common smartphone, were set up for low data usage through the way they did email and the compressed browser. Its hard to get a BB to hit 1 gig of usage without streaming pandora all the time.. even today.

That definitely changed with the iphone and it had a large effect on data.. but not nearly as much until android's rise. there was a lot of data congestion from app downloading and such, but android's full browser is a data killer. Users love it, providers hate it.

posted on 05 May 2012, 11:02 4

21. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

some 95% of people use less than 2GB a month of data, thats why AT&T and verizon both got rid of it. i on the other hand will not leave AT&T because i still have unlimited data and i use like 7GB a month, because im awesome.

posted on 05 May 2012, 13:08 3

31. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

and how much does that plan cost? lol

I use between 7 and 15 gigs a month, but im on a true unlimited plan too. :)

posted on 05 May 2012, 14:23 1

36. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

lol im surprised taco hasnt trolled this section of the feed.

posted on 06 May 2012, 09:35

54. good2great (Posts: 1042; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)

this is ridiculous!! 7 to 15 gbs??? how? why? you guys ever heard of wifi? haha damn thats tons of data...

netflix for cell phones is old news thats what you have a tablet for man...

i'm with sprint and i barely reach 1gb of carrier data all my gb's are used thru wifi...

posted on 06 May 2012, 14:13

60. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

my dad is a wifi nazi and wont give me the password to the modem we have. and i jailbroke my iphone and made it a wifi hotspot and used it to play xbox live. thats how ive hit 15gb+.

posted on 05 May 2012, 15:00

37. freshprince130 (Posts: 5; Member since: 07 Nov 2009)

or do you use 7gb of data becuase you are a pussy repellant...instead of spending so much time using a phone use some comunication skills and go on a date

posted on 05 May 2012, 15:11 3

38. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

wow, way to stereotype users. geek is the new hunk.

i use that much because i stream all my music through Gmusic, keep everything.. everything synced, and use netflix a lot when im bored.

posted on 05 May 2012, 15:28 1

41. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

lol. freshprince... silly troll, i have excellent communication skills, in fact i go out every night with my friends. i think i use 7GB of data because i like to download music and watch a few shows of netflix before i sleep with your mother every night.

posted on 05 May 2012, 18:34

48. freshprince130 (Posts: 5; Member since: 07 Nov 2009)

I sold them..I know how ppl use them sleep away with a corpse necromancer!...and calling someone a retard... d**ksore i mean tedkord:pretty disrespectful to people who have family that has learning disabilities i.e.yours

posted on 06 May 2012, 10:46

55. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


posted on 06 May 2012, 14:04

59. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

i think its funny how you went and made fun of us, then went ahead and said it was disrespectful. you have to be the biggest form of butt nuggetry i have ever witnessed. idiot.

posted on 05 May 2012, 15:31 1

42. thedarkside (Posts: 652; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)

yeah freshtroll, you should probably learn how people use their phones before you get on your pony and try to knock on people.

posted on 05 May 2012, 16:03 1

43. tedkord (Posts: 11554; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


posted on 06 May 2012, 12:52 1

57. medicci37 (Posts: 1275; Member since: 19 Nov 2011)

Personally, I have noticed my (& alot of the geeks on PA) data use is much higher since your momma learned to skype @ fresh p.

posted on 06 May 2012, 15:28

61. BattleBrat (Posts: 1454; Member since: 26 Oct 2011)

@Fresh I would love to have my penis control my brain like yours does your brain, but I think with my big head. And my record for data use was 44gb in one month with my OG DROID.
I didn't even break 1gb last month..... Unlimited data on Verizon

posted on 05 May 2012, 06:51 5

6. kanagadeepan (Posts: 922; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)

Data revenue alone for AT&T is 6.1b$ in just one quarter... MotoMobility costs 12.5b$ for Google... Now see how much these operators are earning and shedding CROCODILE TEARS for UnLimited plans....

posted on 05 May 2012, 07:18 3

7. bintheham (Posts: 13; Member since: 27 Feb 2012)

Exactly. And AT&T is the greediest and sneaky as they come. Cutting my ties with them 2 years ago was the best thing I ever did. I don't care what phones they carry. Their nickel & dime approach to business is not what I need, or any consumer for that matter.

posted on 05 May 2012, 08:07 8

8. InspectorGadget80 (unregistered)

They should fire his greedy a$$ and give us our unlimited data back! And every executive take a HUGE PAYCUT.

posted on 05 May 2012, 08:37 2

9. jeroome86 (Posts: 1101; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)

CEO greed run amok. Text plans are a ripoff anyways. But when you can't get your friends to use the message apps, I have to keep one. Does AT&T even still offer a lower text plan now or is it just unlimited for 20 bucks?

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:15 4

13. thachlel (Posts: 75; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)

I was a great experienced with Cingular, since at&t took over things changed. Price increase and my home line used to be $17 for basic local call and now with at&t $35 same basic! 2 smart phones from $160 to $249 ffkk at&t

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:17 4

15. thachlel (Posts: 75; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)

Btw, luckyly at&t didn't obtain T-Mobile otherwise consumers would even pay more

posted on 05 May 2012, 09:19

16. nelsonl21 (Posts: 18; Member since: 17 Jul 2011)

Once again I point out what's the benefit of having a super phone example galaxy note and restrain myself for using all the greatness and feature rich phone???? Now my home internet provider is cutting unlimited data cause of a domino effect. When all carriers had unlimited data both wifi and cell data was balanced now my cell data is running less than 1 gab because I punish myself to not use it on the go for the fear of overage but guess what now my home wifi has increased the triple of what I use. Oh also att uverse cut unlimited data as well. What's the point Randall of offering best in class phones and services that you can use in a small period of time while on the go??? Contradictions oh contradictions...

posted on 05 May 2012, 10:14 3

19. jabberwocky (Posts: 89; Member since: 21 Feb 2012)

He talks about low data users subsidizing high data users? The only way around it is to charge per kb. Tiered plans still include subsidization.

Also, you can't then lament the fact that people are moving away from your MASSIVELY overpriced text plans, which are SUBSIDIZING everything else since they cost nothing to run. Way to talk out of both sides of your mouth.

The fact is, that wireless companies want $100 from you to give you 2GB of data wirelessly, more than the wired providers charge (which are also overpriced in the US), and for 1/20th of the data cap.

If you overcharge for text, people will eventually find ways around it. If you think you can do the same for data, guess what...

posted on 05 May 2012, 11:24 5

22. intos (Posts: 90; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)

go to hell stephenson...

posted on 05 May 2012, 11:45

23. atheisticemetic (Posts: 377; Member since: 18 Dec 2011)

I'm not worried about the thumbs downs, but to be quite honest? Unlimited data was a huge mistake. You set the expectation when you release a new technology, so had we not been offered unlimited in the first place we wouldnt have anything to bitch about right? (just like offering discounted phones with a contract...THAT was a mistake too)

what people dont realize is that we are in the golden age of smartphones. There is only so much bandwidth available. In the long scheme of things, if we had kept unlimited data we'd be a huge heap of trouble. HD Voice, google voice? Soon enough we wont even have voice or texting plans...everything will be data technically.

What I dont agree with? If you're not going to give me unlimited data you sure as heck better lower my cost from 30 flipping bucks a month!
Initial rates of 30 bucks for 2gigs of data is a damn ripoff, of this i'm sure we can all agree on.

posted on 05 May 2012, 12:38

28. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)

Agree with this comment except the phone subsidies. Carriers are are profiting in the long run by adding a bunch more data revenue.

posted on 05 May 2012, 13:14 6

32. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

its amazing how you always worry more about carrier profit than your own wallet. Thats how i know you live at home with mommy and she pays for everything.

Subsidies are a bad idea. I wish carriers never went that way. Yea, your phone would be more expencive, but you have no idea just how much cheaper your plan could be if they were not burying costs for devices in the plan. It would also even the playing field with devices. Your precious iphone would be on any and every carrier because carriers wouldnt have to worry about being drowned in subsidy costs.
Then again, getting rid of subsidies also means giving up a lot of power the carriers have. If its not subsidized, why would you want a contract? Why would you put up with carrier's jerking you around with updates and bloatware? Why would you put up with locked devices? All that comes because they have people conditioned to subsidies.
Much like the government and taxes.. resetting the system and reforming it are exactly what we need and is best for everyone, but it will never happen because those in power refuse to give up that power.

posted on 05 May 2012, 13:16

34. atheisticemetic (Posts: 377; Member since: 18 Dec 2011)

however this is the reason WHY i would pay full price for a phone.

over the course of two years people have no idea how much they are actually spending on their products. that 300 dollar Razr Maxx cost more than it did retail

posted on 05 May 2012, 13:14

33. atheisticemetic (Posts: 377; Member since: 18 Dec 2011)

the only reason why i feel discounted phones are a mistake is because of the phrase "i want a free phone"

so if anything else companies shouldnt have ever offered a free phone :)

posted on 05 May 2012, 15:14 1

39. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

ha, i get people all the time pissed that we are getting away from free phones. And I ask them. "do you want to pay 60 bux a month or 130 a month like ATT or VZW".. and they go "60 of course". I respond "well you pay an extra 1600 bux on a contract to save 200 on the phone by going to a carrier with free phones. Did you still want that free phone?

You have no idea how many people say "yea".. palm to the forehead.
They really want the GeeBees and the WiFis bad.

posted on 05 May 2012, 12:05

25. Whateverman (Posts: 3262; Member since: 17 May 2009)

Why is it that whenever this guy talks, I get the feeling he really doesn't like his own customers? Or maybe he is just the most painfully honest business man in the cellular industry, because it just sounds like he's saying "We (AT&T) gave customers too much, and they aren't giving us enough in return". What this guy needs is a good spin doctor. A good PR guy/girl who can speak to the media without sounding like Black Beard the Pirate!

posted on 05 May 2012, 15:15 1

40. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

i really think he needs to just let someone else talk. He is not helping the whole "evil empire" image.. unless he really just wants to double down on that image.. lol.

posted on 05 May 2012, 12:15 2

26. gaby1451 (Posts: 114; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)

This guy is getting on my nerves. First he bitches about losing the purchase of T-Mobile, then threatens to raise the price of service for consumers because of it, and now he's regretting making unlimited data a mistake? COME OFF IT ALREADY.

posted on 05 May 2012, 12:29 1

27. MartyK (Posts: 815; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)

The ONLY way this guy would change his ways is if his company was the #3 or #4 company in the USA, but since AT&T is in the top two, he/they will never appreciate their customers; this is how CEO and/or company works.

posted on 05 May 2012, 13:23 1

35. Jyakotu (Posts: 844; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)

Here's what AT&T and all other carriers should look at for their mobile data plans: have plans set up like their broadband Internet services. For example, say you have a smartphone. Obviously, the phone can run on EDGE 2G, 3G, and 4G HSPA+/LTE, right.? So how about for smartphones, carriers allow people to choose the type of data connection they want access to.? Instead of pricing it by amount, do it by the speed. If you want 4G LTE, then you pay a premium. If you can get by with 3G, then you pay a little less. For those with feature phones, 2G or 3G should be enough, since I assume those with feature phones don't really have a need for a web connection. And the usage should be unlimited.

My vision:
2G Unlimited - $10
3G Unlimited - $20
4G HSPA+/LTE Unlimited - $30

Long story short: unlimited data plans that allow users to choose based on speed, not the amount. And this way, if and whenever 4G comes to your area, you can upgrade to the plan accordingly.

posted on 06 May 2012, 11:57

56. jtm1208 (Posts: 37; Member since: 16 Jun 2009)

Lte is not only faster it is more cost efficent as well for the carriers. so that model would only keep people on slower technology that is more expensive for the carrier. That will never happen

posted on 05 May 2012, 17:30 1

44. jeroome86 (Posts: 1101; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)

Don't give any ideas. They may try that. Only differences will be 30,40, and 50 for lte.

posted on 05 May 2012, 18:10 1

45. PC_Surgeon (Posts: 7; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)

All I hear is "I'm sorry we didn't screw you more."

posted on 05 May 2012, 18:21

46. ScelesticSteve (Posts: 26; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

Gosh, he's such a freakin' cry baby. He's all of the media whining and crying about something all the time. If AT&T would quit being such a hateful, greedy, s**tty company Karma might quit biting them in the ass repeatedly.

posted on 05 May 2012, 18:27

47. quryous (banned) (Posts: 106; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)

"AT&T CEO Stephenson: Unlimited data was a mistake."

Yea, they should have screwed the customer even more, from the beginning. None of the embarrassment of policy and price changes.

posted on 05 May 2012, 22:14

49. dmckay12 (Posts: 243; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)

I bet he could beat Dan Hesse in a fight, but everyone would lose if that kid from the Thunderbolt commercials had lightning strike them.

posted on 06 May 2012, 01:42

51. Forsaken77 (Posts: 553; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)

I say we ALL start using services like "iMessage" that disrupt the carriers' business models. That's the only way we can get them to change things. This guy just showed us a kink in their armor... LET'S STRIKE!!!

posted on 06 May 2012, 07:58 1

52. JunitoNH (Posts: 1761; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)

Actually, on the above picture his saying, bend down sheep. Guess in which part of your anatomy I'm going to place my rings of power? Now shut up!!! Pay your bill and hand me all the women in your village.

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