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RAIN 12/9: AT&T says "by the byte" pricing coming for mobile data

Posted on: 12/09/2009


AT&T says it’s becoming more and more difficult to maintain wireless data traffic on its network and is looking to give heavy users a reason to “reduce or modify their usage,” according to head of consumer services, Ralph de la Vega. According to a HuffingtonPost article, de la Vega said “some form of usage-based pricing for data is inevitable.”

“Just 3% of ‘smart’ phone users are consuming 40% of the network capacity, de la Vega said, adding that the most high-bandwidth activity is video and audio streaming. Several applications on the iPhone provide nonstop Internet radio.” The traffic load has led to dropped connections and long waiting times for apps to load and run.

Internet radio veteran James Cridland justly points out that these sort of changes — which will likely be mirrored by other carriers (he mentions O2 in the UK and Rogers and Telus in Canada) — won’t be beneficial to mobile Internet radio, at least on 3G. “If you work at a radio station, you have a transmitter that reaches hundreds of thousands of people at the same time. That’s your USP. And broadcast radio works excellently in portable, mobile, situations,” he wrote in a blog post. “When mobile operators are actively moving you off their network, and now contemplating usage-based pricing – it might be foolish to count on 3G streaming for radio’s long-term future.” Read the HuffingtonPost here read James Cridland’s Blog here.


ABC’s 24-hour online and digital television news channel, ABC News Now, shared the wonders of Internet radio with its viewers in a short video segment, and with two columns on its website. In a segment called “Ahead of the Curve” (we can’t find an air date for it), journalist Andrea Smith explained the concept of Internet radio; talked about services like Pandora; held up a couple devices like the Livio Radio, Squeezebox Radio, and HP Dream Screen; and mentioned mobile apps from webcasters and broadcasters. The two articles mostly center on stand-alone devices (the Livio and Squeezebox, but others too). Read the articles and watch the video here and here.


Major publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., and Time Inc. have confirmed rumors that they’ve agreed on a partnership to develop an online “store” for magazine publishing. The venture will reportedly not only deliver magazine content to the Internet, but also to mobile devices and tablets (yes, the much-rumored and possibly game-changing Apple Tablet is not far from publishers’ minds).

Publishers hope the project, yet unnamed, will be the “Hulu for magazines.” Ars Technica points out the many challenges such a venture faces: agreeing on a standard format and “the lack of a distinct product genre that would be ideal for reading magazines in digital format… without an obvious hardware go-to, such a storefront will have a hard time taking off.” Read more at Ars Technica here.


We here at RAIN love the Wi-Fi and Net radio beanbag known as Chumby (coverage here), but it turns out others have different tastes when it comes to the device’s exterior. An Etsy DIY-er has crammed the guts of Chumby into an old clock modified to look like a steam punkers’ dream radio. Forget “retro,” this thing looks downright ancient — but it’s still fully functional. Engadget has more coverage here.

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  1. That’s true, what needs to be done is encourage the providers to build out the network so they can handle the traffic.

    Bandwidth caps will cause subscribers to move to others that don’t have them. Also, the use of DOCSIS by Comcast and others will hurt them in the long run as far as speed throttling goes. I commented on that and provided some code to the FCC about a year ago in a proceeding relating to the Comcast decision of August 2008.

    If you don’t like bandwidth and usage caps, or DOCSIS throttling mechanisms, or price tiering limiting your speed of upload and download, comment at http://www.openinternet.gov as soon as you can. I understand it will be part of the larger record on broadband access, accessibility, and other matters relating to the deployment of broadband internet technology. Without banning these controls, everyone who wants to do new things on the internet is screwed.

    Jim · Dec 11, 06:45 AM · #

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