To-Verizon Apple iPhone Defections = AT&T Femtocell Donations, Unlimited-Data Plan Resurrections
You’ve got to give AT&T credit; the company’s getting creative (albeit somewhat belatedly) in attempting to prevent both existing iPhone users from migrating to Verizon and new customers from choosing EV-DO CDMA instead of GSM HSPA, topics which Jon Stewart hilariously (at least to me) showcased recently on The Daily Show:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Verizon iPhone Announcement|
Two weeks ago, I mentioned that AT&T had proactively begun selling both the iPhone 4 and prior-generation Apple handsets at deep discounts, in the hopes of locking folks into two-year contracts with often-prohibitive steep termination fees. And more recently come even less predictable corporate moves:
- Last Friday, a memo leaked that indicated AT&T would soon begin proactively offering free in-premises coverage-enhancing femtocells to approximately 7.5% of its customer base, those who “identified as likely to experience poor in-building coverage at home or in small offices” (and no, I haven’t yet gotten a direct mailer). The company normally sells the 3G MicroCell for $199.99 (a markup from the original $149.99 price tag…to be clear; Verizon markets such gear, too), and past rumors suggested that AT&T would occasionally provide it free of charge to customers who complained loud and long enough. However, if true, this program expansion is quite notable, and its gratis price tag neatly deals with the bulk of my past objection to the femtocell concept. Note, however, that ‘free’ comes with fine print: as Engadget’s writeup notes, “you need to agree to a one-year contract on the unit (separate from your normal account contract), so if you cancel service within that year, you need to either return the MicroCell or get charged $199.99 minus $16.67 per month that you’ve had it.”
- Yesterday, as I’d previously predicted, Verizon revealed to Macworld Magazine that like AT&T, it’d charge customers an incremental $20/month (along with instituting a 2 GByte per/month cap) on phone-as-modem functionality over USB, Bluetooth or the (enabled by coming-soon iOS v4.3, and equally applicable to AT&T) Wi-Fi hotspot functionality. Speaking of data caps, however, earlier that same day and as also previously predicted by yours truly, Verizon COO Lowell McAdam also unveiled that the company would offer a limited-time ‘unlimited’ $30/month data plan to new iPhone customers. As regular readers already remember from my repeated past mentions, AT&T dropped its $30/month unlimited data plan last June; I migrated from T-Mobile to AT&T on my handset service (along with adding iPad service) just in time to remain ‘grandfathered’ to this day on the unlimited-data service option. But, in order to keep customers who might be interested in unshackling themselves from usage cap constraints, AT&T seems to be revisiting its past decision. For the moment, at least, the resurrection is seemingly limited to folks who previously had unlimited-data plans but for fiscal or other reasons decided to move to lower-cost capped-data alternatives. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn in the future that the company’s also re-offering it as an upgrade to new and all existing customers, at least on an informal case-by-case basis (i.e. to anyone who mentions the V-word).