AT&T to Charge iPhone Users On A Pay-Per-Byte Model?

In an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega talked about the crappy 3G coverage in key areas such as New York and San Francisco, which he admitted are “performing at levels below our standards.”

According to de la Vega, the good news is AT&T is working on it. I don’t know if we should hold our breath on this because AT&T has been working on this issue for over a year now…

What I found more interesting in this WSJ article is the fact that AT&T might start charging iPhone users on a per-byte basis, as I kinda predicted in an article last month:

With about 3% of smart-phone customers driving 40% of data traffic, AT&T is considering incentives to keep those subscribers from hampering the experience for everyone else, he said. “You can rest assured that we’re very sure we can address it in a way that’s consistent with net-neutrality and FCC regulations.”

Many customers don’t know how much bandwidth they’re consuming, Mr. de la Vega added. When AT&T conducted a broadband test, customers often reduced their data use. Longer-term, he said, a pricing scheme based on usage is likely, though it will be determined by industry competition and regulatory guidelines.

This news comes at the right time as I was going to write an article on how I think it would make sense for AT&T to charge per usage.

As the WSJ says, 3% of users are responsible for 40% of the Internet consumption and it’s not fair for a “little user” to pay the same price as a “power user”.

I came to this conclusion as I am traveling around the world and using pay-as-you-go plans. I realized that I don’t nearly use as much data (aka Internet) on my iPhone as I thought I did. On a pay-as-you-go plan, if I use less, I pay less, which makes sense.

In short, I think it’s a good idea because it benefits me. But what about you? Does such a pricing scheme would benefit you? Are you willing to be charged on a pay-per-byte model?