Imagine seeing an advertisement on television boasting about the new 4G smartphones on AT&T. Wow! They sure look cool, don’t they? You head on over to your local AT&T store and pick one up. Just as you are eagerly about to confirm the purchase, you notice some fine print in the contract. It says you can only use 4G speed for internet browsing, email, and intranet access. You’re shit out of luck for anything else like, say, streaming video.
This is the story of Mark Rasch.
He’s an AT&T customer who happens to live in one of the few cities where AT&T offers its 4G LTE network access. He was excited to get a head start jumping into the 4G world we are entering in to. Sure enough, he reads the contract and finds a tiny wrinkle that reads: “Data sessions may be conducted only for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access.”
Well that’s rather interesting. It looks like AT&T is trying to tell us how to use our 4G smartphones. The carrier has a bad habit telling people how to use their network. Remember when it originally released a tethering plan with 2GB of data for $45 even though the regular 2GB data plan without tethering was only $25? This meant customers had to pay to use the same amount of data, just in a different way.
Rasch has a piece of advice for those of you looking to invest in a 4G phone:
“If you buy these phones thinking that you can use them, any of the thousands of Android apps, and the LTE data network for a host of really cool things like making VOIP calls, using Skype, streaming audio or video, remotely accessing a home PC, accessing cloud services, or any of the thousands of things that such apps enable, think again.”
A spokesperson for AT&T said in a brief comment that applying these limits to 4G phones helps “ensure the efficient use of limited wireless spectrum and strong network performance.” Strong network performance for what, exactly? Visiting websites? What a demanding task.
Update: A representative for AT&T reached out to me, stating that the 4G smartphone contract is no different than that of 3G smartphones. Additionally, this comment was provided: “We’re comfortable with our terms of service and the many ways customers use AT&T’s mobile broadband network.”