Pretty much everyone has been talking about AT&T Wireless’s 3G rollout. They’re providing ~250 Kbps service in 4 cities, including Seattle. Since I’m a current AT&T Wireless subscriber and I live in Seattle, I’ve been paying more attention to this story then normal.

Right now, AT&T Wireless has the worst GPRS data prices in the industry–last time I checked, they wanted $80 for unlimited usage, where “unlimited” doesn’t exactly mean what you’d expect it to mean–it’s really something like 50-100 MB/month. Compared to Sprint and T-Mobile’s $15-$20 rates, it’s clean that AT&T doesn’t want people to actually use the data features on the phones that they’re selling.

Given their GPRS pricing, I was surprised to see that they’re offering unlimited UMTS 3G service to consumers for $25/month. Of course, AT&T Wireless being who they are, apparently they’re still confused about the word “unlimited.” According to mpx200.org, “unlimited” access is limited to AT&T’s mMode portal via the phone’s screen and keyboard:

I have been reading a lot about the UTMS roll out over the past week and one thing that kept jumping out at me was the $24.99 for an Unlimited Enhanced mMode Plan.  I read this $24.99 unlimited so I give AWS a call.  I know that I can’t get UTMS in good old Binghamton NY but maybe they would honor that plan for my old GPRS connection.  Flat out, NO!

This plan is only for UTMS customers in the 4 magical cities under these very strict rules: * You may web browse but the mMode site only * You may get email but via mMode only * You may not connect to another device via cable, Bluetooth, or IR or you will be charged $0.001/KB * You may not remove the SIM from your phone and use any other device or you will be charged $0.001/KB * You may NOT use this service for audio/video content, games, and other downloads or there will be an additional charge.

So what is this rate?  Cheap, sure, many people may fall for this plan and believe that they are being competitive with T-Mobile.  Is the plan useful?  Probably not, that is an awfully limited service, once again AT&T puts such a noose on you that their service becomes a joke.

You know, it’s things like this that make AT&T Wireless the laughingstock of the wireless industry. It’s like they’re actively trying to piss off customers. I just don’t understand why they don’t just sell customers what they want (unlimited access to the web for a reasonable rate) rather then continuing to push their crappy mMode portal on people.

At least they sell real phones, unlike Verizon.