As Operation Chokehold finishes, AT&T flacks are still "on message." They are working hard on getting magazines to explain why people should pay more for bad service through tiered (ie, more costly) pricing.
Of course, the argument that 3% of people use most of the traffic is simply an excuse to find ways to charge 100% of people more for their data services.
But lets pretend these statistics (if even true) where innocently discovered. Let's suppose we're in a meeting when the AT&T boss in charge of pricing is informed of this:
AT&T EMPLOYEE: "Hey, boss, we did a study, and guess what, 3% of our customers are responsible for 40% of our data traffic!"
AT&T BOSS: "What! That's outrageous! Charge them more!"
AT&T EMPLOYEE: "Wait, hold on boss. This is good news! Remember, we force people to pay $30 a month whether they use our data services or not. We're making out like bandits here! A lot of customers are paying full price for unlimited data service and aren't even using it much. It means a lot of customers aren't very tech savvy and don't use the iPhone for much more than making phone calls. It's just an expense status symbol for them. "
AT&T BOSS: "Still, people who use it more should pay more!"
AT&T EMPLOYEE: "Well, no. The whole point of offering unlimited service is so people don't have to worry about how much they use. It's kind of a social contract. If we wanted people to be charged per data bit, we should have done that to begin with. Actually, 3% using 40% isn't that high, I'm surprised it isn't even higher. We can't expect every customer to use the iPhone exactly the same. Especially since it's a leading technology. And we're going to look like jerks if we start talking about changing the deal. Especially when we have huge profits already. Remember, we are exclusive carriers of the iPhone and their are also anti-trust issues."
AT&T BOSS: "Yes, but those data hogs are tying up the whole network. We need to stop them."
AT&T EMPLOYEE: "Are you a frickin' idiot?! These are your best customers! You want to punish them, you stupid moron?! People who use large amounts of data are our most sophisticated customers, super tech savy, super internet connected and usually in high income brackets. They promote our product and are at the forefront of developing new uses for it! The people who aren't using much data are the sheep that follow them! If these people dump AT&T and go to another platform we're screwed!"
AT&T BOSS: "But if they don't stop using hogging all the data we'll have to build more towers."
AT&T EMPLOYEE: "You are a complete imbecile! How did you ever get in charge of a technology company! You have to invest in leading edge technology! Sometimes you have to take short term hits in order to gain market share! We have an incredible opportunity as the exclusive carrier of the iPhone to build out infrastructure and we're making barrels of money while we do it! How greedy and dumb are you!? This is not an issue of people eating too much at the buffet table. Bits cost almost nothing to move around once the infrastructure is in place! Do you hear the cable companies complain when people watch too much TV! That's our real competition! We should be investing in the future and thanking leading edge customers for using our products! These are the people who buy second and third iPhones and give them away as gifts! You really want to anger them?"
AT&T BOSS: "Well, I still think they're data hogs. And maybe we can raise prices, which is always a good idea. Have some flacks float the idea of tiered pricing and lets see what reaction we get."
AT&T EMPLOYEE: "ARE YOU FRICKIN' KIDDING ME? Are you not listening!? Why do you want to float around the idea of PISSING OFF YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS!? I can give you the answer! People are going to bitch like crazy and we'll look like morons again!"
AT&T BOSS: "Just do it."
AT&T EMPLOYEE: "Okay, boss."