AT&T May Scrooge 3G Customers on Downloading

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Wireless broadband provider AT&T has a problem. Users of Apple's incredibly successful Iphone are utilizing their devices to access multimedia Web content just the way their maker intended, and that's giving the Iphone's exclusive carrier a case of the bandwidth blues.

According to an AP report by Peter Svensson, heavy data demand generated by smartphone streaming media apps is bogging down AT&T's network, prompting CEO Ralph de la Vega to declare that his company will soon present customers with incentives to reduce their bandwidth footprint.

The issue surfaced at an investor's conference in New York, where de la Vega identified audio and video streaming as primary factors behind the 3 percent of subscribers that his company claims are responsible for 40 percent of all network data traffic.

In other words, AT&T is planning to take a bigger bite out of its customers in exchange for extra megabytes of download. If the carrier makes good on its promise to initiate metered mobile data and competitor Verizon follows suit, growth in mobile streaming could suffer as subscribers feel the pinch.

While de la Vega didn't say when his company might implement metered service, he did describe such a move as inevitable.

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