AT&T, Verizon Boost Data Allowances for Some Plans

AT&T Mobility has boosted data allowances on $40 a month and $70 a month Value Share Value plans.

The new plans boost the data allowance from 2 GB to 3GB for the $40 a month plan. The $70 a month plan used to feature 4 GB, and now offers 6GB more data.

Verizon Wireless, for its part, has boosted allowances for customers (new or existing) as well. Customers on $80 a month plans get 10 GB data allowances, up from 6 GB. Customers on $100 a month plans receive 15 GB data allowances, up from 10 GB.

Those moves reflect the continuing mobile marketing wars in the U.S. market, and represent a non-price form of competition that helps both firms maintain prices while providing more value, a rather typical form of competitive packaging in the Internet access business.

Over time, as has been the case for PCs and other computing devices, retail prices tend to decline over time, even as processor speed, memory or other attributes tend to improve.

That is an analogous process to what is happening in the U.S. mobile market, as Sprint and T-Mobile US attack retail packaging, both in terms of retail price and data allowances. AT&T and Verizon now are forced to react.

For some of us, the more surprising development is not that Moore's Law continues to operate, but that in the realm of Internet access, despite nearly continual criticism, Internet access speeds in the U.S. market have continued to improve nearly as fast as Moore’s Law suggests processing will improve.

That is somewhat shocking, as Internet access is a civil engineering exercise, while Moore’s Law operates at the device level. And it is far easier to replace devices than access infrastructure.

But Internet access bandwidth in fact does advance nearly as fast as Moore’s Law would suggest for devices.

Consumer Internet access bandwidth has grown about as fast as Moore’s Law would suggest, according to Jakob Nielsen, Professor Rod Tucker and Phil Edholm, former Nortel's CTO.

That is shocking, but historically accurate. That is why some of us are sanguine about prospects for U.S. Internet access speed advances, providing blockages (regulatory intervention, massive economic disruption, re-monopolization) do not develop.

source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Consider a 2004 prediction (remember that in 2000 most U.S. Internet users were on dial-up connections): “Edholm's Law says that in about five years (that would have been 2009) 3G (third-generation) wireless will routinely deliver 1 Mbps, Wi-Fi will bring nomadic access to 10 Mbps, and office desktops will connect at a standard of 1 gigabit per second.”

History has shown that prediction to be about right for mobile, possibly too conservative for Wi-Fi, while too optimistic about desktop connections.

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