Tech at Night: Sorry, FTC is wrong and AT&T is right. Without a doubt.

Tech at Night

The latest Two Minutes’ Hate in lefty land is over AT&T getting sued by FTC because of throttling of unlimited bandwidth users.

The problem is, FTC is wrong, and AT&T is right here, and it’s not even close.

You see, I was an AT&T unlimited customer. In fat I was one of the customers that was grandfathered in. It was a fair idea: AT&T offered its unlimited customers a chance to keep on with the same services as before, but as an incentive to switch, they offered new services to those who did switch. I eventually switched to get wifi tethering of my computer and/or my iPad to my iPhone (I then finally moved to T-Mobile just last month to save $30/mo). Some never switched.

There was a reason AT&T made the change. They knew LTE was coming, and they knew those old unlimited data plans were totally unsustainable once the LTE era began. 3G HSPA was mature, well deployed, and had capacity to spare by that time, so unlimited 3G use wasn’t so bad. Unlimited LTE use would cripple the network and make poor service for all of AT&T’s customers.

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So, if AT&T tells these users hey, you signed up for unlimited HSPA, and by gum we’ll give you unlimited HSPA+, then what’s wrong with that? Heck, T-Mobile only gives you unlimited 2G EDGE if you run out of your 4G LTE allotment, so those users would still be getting a better deal even.

Ultimately FTC is trying to take what is a fair arrangement, and turn a market outcome into an adversarial process. That’s not how government and the marketplace are supposed to work. When trade happens, both sides are supposed to benefit. That’s how wealth is created. The free market is a positive sum game. The government is tinkering with that, picking winnners, and creating losers.

FTC is wrong, and AT&T is right.


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