iPhone Customer Experience Retains customers, freaks out Monopolistic long-distance carriers

USA Today has a piece today suggesting that the new iPHone "gulps network capacity" in such amounts that AT&T is having having tough time keeping up.

According to Nielsen's Roger Entner, "the average iPhone user eats up around 400 megabytes of capacity each month. Average smartphone usage is 40 to 80 megabytes. "

Poor, poor AT&T...all these customers who can't get enough of your product and can't switch to a competitor!

But what's really happening with the claim that "network demands are only going to increase as pricing on the current iPhone 3G drops to $99"?  The article skips over at least one link in the syllogism by concluding that as price drops the number of devices increases in absolute terms (notwithstanding the millions of iPhone early adopters who will surely be buying their second or even third iphone, as loyal AT&T customers).  This is inaccurate rather than plainly untrue. 

Imagine it: a device manufacturer finally built a device that represents valuable customers who demand good data service (even though Sprint's network can probably deliver as much throughput as AT&T, there's no way I'm going to demand that much data on my Blackberry Curve- the browsing experience sucks, but the email is great).

The iPhone's competitive advantage is the customer experience, from the interface to the data connection, so AT&T's iPhone business goes to hell if they stop investing in the network.  Great customer experiences, at some pricepoints ("every purse and purpose" is not the play here) are what retain customers. 

AT&T likes locked-in customers, though- it always has, from back when AT&T was....(ahem) AT&T.  I don't know if I see that attitude changing at the company until my generation is managing it; people who have always had a cell phone but have switched six times before they turn 25.