AT&T CEO Regrets Offering Unlimited Data Plans And Fears Services Like iMessage

ATT unlimited data mistakeWhen speaking at a conference earlier this week, AT&T’s CEO (Randall Stephenson) revealed his one regret regarding AT&T’s early adoption of the iPhone. The New York Times highlights a particular quote, in which Stephenson goes on to suggest that offering unlimited data was a mistake:

“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.”

Stephenson also fears services on the iPhone that consume large amounts of data like iMessage and Skype, saying that they’re “disruptive to our revenue stream”:

“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.”

Of course now, due to the heavy load on the carrier, the only AT&T customers with unlimited data plans are those who managed to get in prior to the discontinuation of the plan. However, even “unlimited data” users aren’t receiving what they were promised with AT&T’s relativly-new data throttling policy.

With that said, why did AT&T offer unlimited data in the first place if they’d come to regret the decision years later? Were they really just trying to rope in as many customers as quickly as possible with pseudo-promises of unlimited data, or did they simply not predict the magnitude of how extraordinarily data-oriented Apple’s bestselling product would become?

Stay tuned for more coverage on Apple, AT&T and other carriers.

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