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AT&T CEO Says ‘Unlimited iPhone Data Was a Mistake’, Lies Awake at Night Over iMessage

AT&T CEO Says ‘Unlimited iPhone Data Was a Mistake’, Lies Awake at Night Over iMessage

Speaking at Milken Institute’s Global Conference last week, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had a lot to say about Apple and the iPhone, expressing that he regretted ever offering unlimited data plans for the iPhone, and that AT&T should have moved quicker to kill it once it was offered.

The New York Times reports:

 “My 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 said in the on-stage interview at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference on Wednesday. “And it’s a variable cost model. Every additional megabyte you use in this network, I have to invest capital.”

Aside from his comments on unlimited data plans for the iPhone, Stephenson also commented on Apple’s iMessage service, which allows users to send messages between iOS devices for free – a direct threat to the relevance of text messaging, which is a significant source of revenue for carriers.

“You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model,” he said. “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.”

AT&T eventually discontinued unlimited data plans to new customers, and proceeded to try to bully their customers into giving up unlimited data by capping data, throttling speeds to nearly unusable levels, and in some cases even trying to scam users into switching to their tiered data plans.

It remains to be seen how carriers will respond to Apple’ iMessage – although given the absurd price carriers charge for text messaging (at least in comparison to typical data usage), perhaps carriers have had this coming for quite some while.

Despite Stephenson’s concerns, AT&T is seeing immense success in retaining iPhone customers and drawing new iPhone subscribers, with the iPhone accounting for 60% of AT&T’s total mobile sales to contracted and post-paid customers.

You can check out the full interview below.