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AT&T CEO Regrets Offering Unlimited iPhone Data



AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson, in some surprisingly candid remarks, has stated that offering unlimited iPhone data was a mistake and that he loses sleep over iMessage, Apple’s internet-based messaging service, a service that is cutting into the company’s revenue stream.

According to the New York Times, in remarks at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Los Angeles today, Stephenson stated very plainly that his “only regret was how we introduced pricing in the beginning, because how did we introduce pricing? Thirty dollars and you get all you can eat.”

He also went on to say that “it’s a variable cost model. Every additional megabyte you use in this network, I have to invest capital.”

However, unlimited data wasn’t the only thing that Stephenson had on his mind. He also launched into some blunt remarks about Apple’s iMessage service, native to iOS 5.

“You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model,” said Stephenson. “Apple iMessage is a classic example. If you’re using iMessage, you’re not using one of our messaging services, right? That’s disruptive to our messaging revenue stream.”

And while Stephenson said that he regrets ever offering unlimited data for the iPhone, he says that he does not regret carrying the smartphone itself saying that it moved the mobile industry toward the data driven model that it has in place right now.

AT&T got rid of unlimited data for the iPhone and its other devices back in 2010, however, some customers still remain grandfathered into unlimited data plans, something that has been a point of contention in recent days.

An iPhone user took AT&T to court claiming that the carrier unfairly throttled his data after advertising an unlimited data plan. Surprisingly, the iPhone owner won and AT&T had to dole out $935 in a settlement.

Read: AT&T Pays iPhone Owner in Data Throttling Case.

The court case was likely the catalyst for the carrier to finally reveal its data throttling policy.

Back at the beginning of March, AT&T finally made its throttling policy public and announced that those grandfathered on an unlimited data plan were subject to a 5GB threshold with a 4G LTE data plan and 3GB when using HSPA+ 4G or 3G.

iMessage was introduced in 2011 with iOS 5 and it has replaced traditional text messaging for some users. Because it’s free, the service has cut into the revenue streams of mobile providers, something that clearly spawned Stephenson’s comments today.

Apple’s iPhone, as it stands, is currently the best selling smartphone on AT&T.



  1. David Howarc

    05/04/2012 at 6:26 pm

    I wish he would lose sleep over how to make customers happy, or how reduce costs and rates, but I guess he is out 900 bucks and that affects his thinking. Poor guy.

  2. Dale Strauss

    05/05/2012 at 7:49 am

    Boo hoo hoo for Stephenson. I’ll bet he hasn’t lost a wink of sleep over all of teh dropped calls (20-30% daily), connection failures, 3g non-data, and general crappy coverage I and many other crazy iPhone users have suffered through since 2007.

    “Disrupt his business model” – has he ever once thought how crappy his business model is? And look at complaint #2 – they are stealing “his” text messaging revenue. Give me a break – unless you pay extra for the monthly unlimited messaging (which, remember, take little bandwidth), they rip you off at $0.20 per INCOMING AND OUTGOING message. So, I guess preventing highway robbery would be a disruption of his business model.

    Too many of these execs echo Gekko’s “Greed…is good.”

  3. Nicole B.

    05/05/2012 at 8:27 am

    This is a classic case of greed. How does he lose over iMessage, when AT&T is clearly over f*&%$ng priced anyway??!! Does he think that $100 plus bill every month for ONE person is cool? Couldn’t we go back to the days when cell phone bills were $30 bucks a month?

  4. MobilezFun

    05/07/2012 at 2:16 am

    Any how AT&T getting money for Unlimited data. Then how they will ?

  5. Stephanie

    05/31/2012 at 10:53 am

    OH BOO HOO!!! Wireless DOES NOT have to contend with the same federal rules that regular phone providers have to. This is why they can allow for the crappy service (dropped calles, etc.)!! They are not regulated and wanting funding for lifeline services and then complain when those of us who have unlimited and pay full (OUTRAGEOUS) price for it actually use it as intended!! Time to find a new service that won’t be throttling back my usage! Someone will learn to profit from this.

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