• AT&T Exec Suggests Penalties for High-Bandwidth Users

    The head of AT&T's wireless services division told investors today that smartphone users who consume more bandwidth than the carrier considers reasonable may end up paying more for it. Ralph de la Vega, the CEO of AT&T Mobility, also said in his speech to attendees of a UBS investors conference that his company intends to address the problems users have complained about in New York and San Francisco. "This is going to get fixed," de la Vega said. "In both of those markets, I am very confident that you're going to see significant progress."

    In his speech, de la Vega also promised that any changes in the carrier's pricing structure would respect net neutrality. He said future plans would depend on how well AT&T would be able to track real-time usage, and that pricing will be affected not just by regulation but by pressure from outside competitors and how customers react to changes.

    De la Vega again made the case that some level of control would be necessary because of the higher amounts of bandwidth used by smartphones such as the iPhone. He indicated that despite infrastructure improvements like the 850MHz 3G upgrades in San Francisco, the most demanding AT&T subscribers might have to make changes to their usage patterns or opay a penalty. He discussed incentives for customers to "reduce or modify their usage" like making it easier to determine how much data they use each month. "We've got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data," he said. "We're improving all our systems to let consumers get real-time information on their data usage."

    AT&T's has admitted in the past that it blocked specific iPhone apps because it considered them bandwidth hogs. As a result of such a heavy-handed approach, the FCC has been considering regulating cellphone traffic as it begins to set up net neutrality rules to ensure fair treatment for video, VoIP and other high-bandwidth data traffic.

    image via TechShout.com
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