This is a follow up to my post back June 17th, 2016. Back then I had just moved to my new home and back then the only wired option for broadband internet was AT&T U-verse. Sadly the maximum speed was only 18Mbps down and a paltry 1.8Mbps up. Although Comcast’s Xfinity was available in my subdivision, they hadn’t run lines yet to the newly developed area.
6 months later I have Xfinity high speed internet again
The single biggest frustration in my recent move is that my only available internet provider at the moment is AT&T Uverse. It was either go with AT&T or no internet (satellite internet is even worse) or have no home internet at all. Having had cable internet since 1999 I was spoiled by the relatively fast speeds I was getting. My last place had Comcast Xfinity internet and I was getting 120 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up. Since I work from home, having faster internet is a must. While I did move to a more rural area, Comcast IS in the neighborhood. As a matter of fact if I look out my back window I can literally see a house that has Xfinity:
The joys of new construction – AT&T Uverse was smart enough run their lines early
My new house was built on a new street. Since the street is new, it doesn’t yet show up in many business service databases. In order to get service to a new address, Comcast sends out a person to do a survey. If this person feels that you can get service without a lot of effort, they add your new address to their system and then you can place an order and get services installed. However, if the person doing the survey feels that there would need to be “construction” done to run the lines to your street, then it has to be financially approved and scheduled before you can get service.
If you’re an early iPhone adopter like me, then chances are you are grandfathered in to AT&T’s “Unlimited” data plan. AT&T has taken a lot of heat (and deservedly so) over playing games with this plan and doing things like throttling users back that use a lot of their “unlimited” data and holding back features ie. Data Tethering and FaceTime over Cellular, from users still on these plans.
Never gonna give it up!
Like many of you I have no plans of giving up my unlimited data voluntarily. Actually I don’t have a choice as my AT&T plan is through work. I do use a lot of data when I travel. I’m on this plan until they take it away (cold dead hands) or until work changes to something else. However, I also have a family plan with family members on it. Many of those iPhones and iPads were on unlimited plans too. A couple of months ago I decided to look not only at my bill, but to also look at usage and I found that most of these family members don’t use a lot of iPhone 3G/4G data at all. They are on WiFi most of the time either at home, work or school. I also had 3 iPads on various monthly pay-as-you-go plans. I decided to bite the bullet and move everything over to one of AT&T’s Shared Data Plans. Doing the math it would save me about $30/month and everyone (but me) would get the benefits of tethering and FaceTime over 3G/4G. I went with the 10GB/month plan because for 5 iPhones and 3 iPads the math you don’t really save anything by going with a lower plan as the cost per phone goes up!
How’s it going?
This is my first full month after the switch and as I suspected they didn’t go anywhere near the 10GBs of allotted data. Again remember this is for 5 iPhones and 3 iPads.
The Bottom Line
While I like the idea of buying data and using it anyway that I want, I still don’t like AT&T’s tactics here of not allowing you to use your device to fullest if you were an early adopter on an unlimited data plan. If you use the data (especially video streaming) then by all means stick to your unlimited plan. Stick it to the man! However, if you could save a few bucks and you’re not using that much data you might be actually better off on one of the new shared data plans. These plans also include unlimited voice and unlimited texting.
Although I know it's iPad 2 day (more on that to come), let's not forget that Apple released iOS 4.3 this week for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. One of the most compelling features for iPhone users is the Personal Hotspot feature (finally!). However, use of this feature on AT&T comes at high price. I'm not talking about the monthly charge as much as I am the fact that original iPhone users have to make a choice if they are thinking about using it. Prior to the iPhone 4 iPhone users on AT&T have enjoyed unlimited 3G data for a single monthly charge. AT&T grandfathered this plan for people upgrading to the iPhone 4. In June 2010 AT&T discontinued the unlimited data plans for NEW iPhone/Smartphone customers. While the new plans offer a lower monthly charge for less data, the highest plan is capped at 2GBs/month. If you go over, you pay!
Unlimited Data or Personal Hotspot?
In order to take advantage of the new Personal Hotspot feature that allows you to connect your Laptop, WiFi iPad or other WiFi devices to your iPhone wirelessly to share your iPhone's 3G data connection, you have to switch to the newer Data Pro plan ($25/month for 2GB of data) AND you have to ADD a tethering plan ($20/month) for a total of $45/month. What sucks the most about this is that the extra $20/month doesn't get you any more data! It's a "just because we can" charge. CORRECTION: The New DataPro tethering plan gives your 4GB total per month. Of course if you use the Personal Hotspot feature you'll likely hit that 4GBs faster and then have to start paying for additional data. On the plus side you can choose to turn this feature on or off on your account as needed. If you know you're going on a trip and want to use it, you can turn it on and then turn it off for the following month. Either way, you still have to give up your Unlimited Data Plan to use it.
Your choice of course is to not switch. Besides that option, you can weigh the cost of a data card or the MiFi if you're going to be a heavy user. Lastly since Jailbreaking your iPhone is legal, you could use a Jailbroken App that allows you to turn your iPhone into a personal hotspot without switching plans (you may be violating AT&T's rules by doing this and I'm not telling you to do so. You would be doing this AT YOUR OWN RISK and risk to your Apple Warranty). Verizon is already rumored to be dropping their iPhone unlimited plans soon too!
For now and as long as it's allowed I'll be sticking with my Unlimited Plan!
AT&T and Verizon you really need to rethink "data".
One of my main AT&T/iPhone complaints has finally been addressed. Ever since the iPhone 3G (and for some, the original iPhone) came out two years ago, I wondered why AT&T was so adamant about NOT allowing you to tether (use your iPhone as a modem/WiFi hotspot) your iPhone to your laptop and share its 3G data connection. After all they allow this with every other smart phone they sell and they even sell 3G data cards. Also no one ever expected this to be FREE. So I never really got why this was such a big deal? Granted AT&T couldn't do it alone and it would require built-in support by Apple in the iPhone OS (iOS). However, that support came in iPhone OS 3 LAST YEAR. So what took AT&T a YEAR to allow it on the iPhone for us in the US? They claim that they still needed to tweak their network to allow the influx of additional data traffic. While this may be true, the thing is since it's not FREE, not everyone is going to do it. Also it's not something you're going to be using all the time or would you?
Data Plan caps may have been the real issue
I don't doubt that AT&T needed to (and still needs to) work on "the world's fastest 3G network" to get it ready for even the slightest increase in traffic, but I suspect that an even larger issue was not wanting you to be able to pay a flat fee and have unlimited use. Even when you go with a $60/month 3G data card from AT&T there is a 5GB/month cap on it. Up until now all iPhone plans have been "UNLIMITED" data. So while the amount of 3G data that iPhone users currently consume must be HUGE, I'm sure giving users unlimited tethering would have brought this fragile network to its knees.
Do you want unlimited iPhone 3G data or do you want tethering?
I've been busy with my day job and really couldn't spend a lot of time ogling the iPhone announcements the other day. However, I did catch up on my reading of all the new things and watched a few of the videos and of course people expect me to weigh in on what I like or don't like about new tech gadgets So here goes:
iPhone 4 – What I'm excited about
From a new hardware perspective, I'm excited about the new smaller, thinner form factor and since I have yet to see the actual (retina) display I can't weigh in on it one way or the other. I'm sure it's great. I also welcome the faster speeds of the A4, longer battery life of the bigger battery and potential better call quality based on the new antenna layout/case design. I definitely welcome the new 5MP camera and LED flash as well as having both a front facing and rear facing camera. This was long over due! FaceTime looks cool, but I wonder how useful it will be since both people have to have iPhone 4s and be on WiFi. Still, it will be fun to try. The 720p video is definitely welcome! It may mean that I can actually give up my Kodak Zi8, which I love. What I love even more is carrying less devices.
iPhone 4 – What I'm a little disappointed about
Although I get the space constraint issues, I'm still disappointed that there's not a 64GB version. Maybe I won't care as much now that I have an iPad, but my 32GB iPhone 3GS is always within 1-5GBs of space remaining. So I was looking forward to not only a faster iPhone, but bigger storage too. Also I kinda wish that they didn't go to a MicroSIM as it means switching the SIM card between phones is going to be a little more challenging. I'll be testing an Android phone in the not too distant future and it would have been nice to be able to "easily" go between the two with the same SIM Card. This solution looks promising though.
iOS 4 – What I'm excited about
If you asked me to name the top 3 features I can't wait for they would be (in order): Folders! – I have TONS of Apps and believe it or not, I can't wait to get them under control from an organization standpoint with folders. I have all 11 screens full right now on my 3GS and I have to pick and choose which apps to delete when I want to add more because I refuse to let them slide into that black hole that is page 12. The second thing I have been dying for is the integrated inbox in Mail. I've been complaining about that since 2007. So 3 years later, I'm glad that someone at Apple realized that people have more than one email account and don't want to have to constantly go back back back to view a different inbox. The third thing that I'm excited about is mult-tiasking. Although it remains to be seen what really happens when an app is in the background, I still welcome the fact that it will at least return me to the app where I left off now with 3rd party apps.
It seemed like only last week when I shared my 1st month of iPad data use with you all. I started out with the 250MB/month iPad plan knowing that I could always upgrade to the unlimited data plan if I needed to. Now it looks as if the unlimited plan is going away unless you act TODAY! Starting today, AT&T will start NEW data plans for ALL Smart phone devices (including iPad/iPhone). So if you already bought an iPad 3G and thought that you might some day want to go "UNLIMITED" for $29.99/month, then you better do it now, because starting today that plan goes away for NEW subscribers. Here's the break down:
The OLD Plans (prior to 6/7/2010)
iPad – 250 MB/month $14.99/month
Unlimited Data Plan $29.99/month
The OLD iPhone Plans
iPhone 2G UNLIMITED+200 SMS Data $20/month
iPhone 3G/3GS Unlimited Data $30/month (+$5/month for 200 SMS)
The NEW Data Plans starting TODAY for NEW accounts (iPhones too)
DataPlus 200MB/month $15/month
DataPro 2GB/month $25/month
Tethering your SmartPhone (iPhone with 4.0 software)
DataPro plan $25 + Tethering $20 = $45/month
While the prices are technically cheaper, Unlimited goes away! 2GB's sounds like a lot and it probably is for MOST people, but if you plan to stream video on your device 2GB in a month can be eaten up pretty quickly. These new plans now make it so that you have to monitor your usage closely. Luckily if you do go over, you're not charged a per kilobyte fee. Instead you'll be able to add on another block of usage for a set price (another 200MB for $15 or if you're on the DataPro plan you get another 1GB for $10). So again if you do a lot of streaming, your bill could be quite high. I should also mention that all of these NEW plans do come with FREE access to any AT&T WiFi hotspots.
No iPad to iPhone tethering, yet – According to AT&T, they have no problem with you tethering your iPad to your iPhone to share the iPhone's data connection. However, currently the iPad doesn't support it in it's OS and Apple says that the 4.0 OS update isn't coming to the iPad until the fall. So we may have to wait til then to see if the iPad will tether to the iPhone.
How much Data have I used on my iPhone or other smartphone?
Although you can look this info up on your device, I find the most accurate way is to dial *3282# from your phone and you'll get a text message with the break down of your current usage.
Don't think you're going to use that much data?
Maybe you won't, but here's some food for thought. If you're just doing normal surfing, email, etc. then you're probably fine. However, let's not forget that iTunes sells and rents MOVIES! The average movie size is 1.5GB. So if you rent a movie over 3G, you could quickly hit the limit of the DataPro plan and then start having to pay for additional 1GB blocks at $10 a pop before your next billing cycle. I know it's easy to say, "well don't do that. Download your movies while you're on WiFi." However, this wasn't an issue yesterday and now somehow makes the mobile platforms seem a little less fun.
When I got my iPad WiFi+3G back on April 30th, I resisted signing up for the Unlimited 3G Data Plan ($29.99/month). Since there is no contract and you can upgrade or downgrade at any time I wanted to see if I could get by on the 250MB/month Plan ($14.99/month). My thought was "why pay more up front when you're not sure how much you're really going to use?". I was right! In the first month I used my iPad as much as I needed to/wanted to on 3G. The rest of the time I was on WiFi or traveling abroad and using it on WiFi. I only used 171MB in the first month. So technically I saved $14.99 by NOT doing the impulse thing and signing up for the Unlimited Plan right off the bat. Now that's not to say that I wan't have some months where I need more 3G data and if I do, I'll purchase more at that time. However, today I feel like I just saved $14.99 by not giving it to AT&T up front.