What’s That Ringing In My Ears?

So evidently there was a rumor going around that AT&T would offer a special data-only plan so that hearing-impaired iPhone owners could use their phones for data only. This makes sense, it’s a reasonable accommodation, all to the good. But the rumor was only that — no such plan exists, which is a shame. But, they’re working on it, which is good.

Take a step back, though, and what I see is that there exists a huge demand for a data-only service — demand so intense that AT&T anticipates fending off potential customers by requiring medical certification — that AT&T has already decided to thwart. Got that? Eager would-be customers for a service AT&T already plans to offer, whom AT&T has decided it will not serve. Perhaps Mordac, denier of information services, has been promoted to AT&T’s marketing department.

I suspect that this approach is just what Google has in view (according to Harold Feld’s analysis) — the kind of dog-in-the-manger corporate strategy that thinks it can determine what customers should be allowed to want. Time to circumvent the whole dunderheaded system.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I would guess that AT&T is afraid that allowing data only on their voice wireless network would overwhelm the bandwith capacity of the network. A voice call has very little bandwidth requirements. A data stream (e.g., a web page) can eat up a lot of bandwidth quickly. Think 56 k modem vs. DSL connections at home vs 10/100 Meg connextions at the office.

    David Baird

  2. I take your point, David, but that still leaves us with pent-up demand that AT&T has determined not to satisfy. I’m sure that it’s not simply a matter of throwing open some digital floodgate and letting datacentric iPhone users go to town, but I thought that one of the functions of the market was to provide services where there’s demand for them. AT&T seems to be saying not “Whoa! Give us a minute, we want to offer you these services” but “Stop bothering us.”

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