AT&T promises to improve service… by penalizing high-bandwidth iPhone users

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Once again, AT&T shook their corporate fist menacingly at the bandwidth hogging iPhone kiddies scampering about their 3G lawn, threatening to charge users more if they keep on taking watching streaming video and availing themselves of other high-bandwidth services on their iPhones.

Speaking to attendees at a USB investor conference in New York, AT&T Wirelss CEO Ralph de la Vega said that AT&T was working on improving service in New York and San Francisco, possibly by introducing pricing tiers that would penalize high-bandwidth users.

Needless to say, if you’re under an existing contract, AT&T can’t just move you over to a tiered data contract… but once your existing contract is up, it’s open season.

We know that AT&T’s networks are seriously congested, and that they are growing slower than the number of iPhone users. Still, AT&T seems very comfortable about talking about charging users more for their data, considering the fact that their exclusivity deal with Apple is set to end next year.

Either AT&T knows something the rest of us don’t, or they’re looking at a mass defection of iPhone users the second Apple’s handset hits another U.S. carrier… one who will presumably be savvy enough to realize they can undercut AT&T by not tiering their user’s data plans. This might be the wrong time to talk about penalizing your users, guys.