Pretty interesting to see AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson saying basically that his company really doesn’t want to sell you a 3G-powered iPad, since he thinks you will probably use it over Wi-Fi anyway. Easy for us to say we told you so, but it’s not like that was the most original take. Anyone who has been watching AT&T’s wireless network struggles over the past year can’t be surprised that Ma Bell isn’t going to go out of its way to promote yet another bandwidth-hogging device.
Perhaps even more interesting are Stephenson’s quotes about what he sees in the future for AT&T wireless customers — namely, consumption-based pricing, especially if you are a heavy data user. From the Reuters story today, this quote from Stephenson:
“For the industry, we’ll progressively move towards more of what I call variable pricing so the heavy (use) consumers will pay more than the lower consumers,” Stephenson said.
While most observers also think that Verizon will price its launching-sometime-this-year Long Term Evolution services in a similar fashion, the folks at Clearwire were headed in a different direction Tuesday at their developer’s workshop in Santa Clara, Calif. — namely, talking about all-you-can-eat data plans at much faster download rates than comparable 3G cellular data plans from the big carriers. What really caught our eye was a graph showing what happens to your monthly costs when you start exceeding the 5 Gb monthly data caps that 3G “unlimited” plans all have attached — the 3G costs go up like the proverbial hockey stick, while the Clearwire WiMAX pricing stays the same. (The presentations from the developer confab are supposed to be posted soon; we’ll put a link in here when they are up.)
One of the data points to emerge from Clearwire at the conference was the fact that so far its WiMAX customers are chomping up a lot more data — around 7 Gigs per month each, according to Clearwire, a figure also headed up. As we’ve said before we think Clearwire has a good message to get out when it comes to being the value leader in wireless data services. Expect to hear more about this theme from Clearwire and its WiMAX partners as the year progresses.