First AT&T will educate, later comes the price hikes

While most cell phone network operators are wondering how they can encourage users to make more use of the data network, AT&T wants to "educate" heavy users in order to curb their insatiable appetite for date.

While most cell phone network operators are wondering how they can encourage users to make more use of the data network, AT&T wants to "educate" heavy users in order to curb their insatiable appetite for date.

Speaking at an event in New York, AT&T's head of customer services Ralph de la Vega said that the company was looking into ways to get those users who are sucking at the data teat hardest to "reduce or modify their usage."

"We need to educate the customer. We've got to get them to understand what represents a megabyte of data."

According to De la Vega 40% of AT&T's bandwidth is being consumed by 3% of users. Video downloads and Internet radio are the biggest network hogs.

So, will it end with just education? Probably now, especially since De la Vega hinted at data pricing. Currently iPhone customers get unlimited (in other words, 5GB) data. Given how hard these users are hammering the network, despite the fact that most users don't come close to that 5GB limit, it's clear that AT&T can't deliver on this for much longer.

Note: Want to know what your data usage is? There's an app for that!

So, could this be a money-spinner for AT&T? After offering unlimited (of sorts) data plans, and getting people hooked, will users be willing to pay more for their downloads? I'm not sure. People are overall pretty dissatisfied with AT&T and paying more money could very well be the last straw for many, especially if the iPhone is available on other networks.

So, would you pay more for data downloads? 5GB limit?