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AT&T Introduces Tiered Data Plans

by Sean P. Aune | June 2, 2010June 2, 2010 1:18 am PST

If you don’t have a current AT&T data plan before June 7th (there’s that date again … funny how many think that is the day the iPhone HD is coming out), prepare to get jerked around on pricing but hard.

AT&T is doing away with unlimited data plans across the board as of June 7th, and yes that also means for the iPad 3G. Current customers will be grandfathered in and not required to change over, but if you choose to do so you will not need to extend your contract.

at&t death starHere are the plan explanations directly from the company:

* DataPlus. Provides 200 megabytes (MB) of data – enough to send/receive 1,000 emails (no attachments), send/receive 150 emails with attachments, view 400 Web pages, post 50 photos on social media sites and 20 minutes of streaming video – for just $15 per month. This plan, which can save customers up to 20 percent off their wireless voice and data charges, is designed for people who primarily like to surf the web, send email and use social networking apps. If customers exceed 200 MB in a monthly billing cycle, they will receive an additional 200 MB of data usage for $15 for use in the month. Currently, 65 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data per month on average.

* DataPro. Provides 2 gigabytes (GB) of data – enough to send/receive 10,000 emails (no attachments), send/receive 1,500 emails with attachments, view 4,000 Web pages, post 500 photos to social media sites and watch 200 minutes of streaming video – for $25 per month. Should a customer exceed 2 GB during a billing cycle, they will receive an additional 1 GB of data for $10 for use in the month. Currently, 98 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB of data a month on average.

* Tethering. Smartphone customers – including iPhone customers – who choose the DataPro plan have the option to add tethering for an additional $20 per month. Tethering enables customers to use their smartphone as a modem to provide a broadband connection for laptop computers, netbooks or other computing devices. Tethering for iPhones will be available when Apple releases OS 4.0 this summer.

With the new wireless data plans, pricing for a smartphone voice and data bundle now starts at just $54.99 per month for an individual plan, or $24.99 per month for an additional line on a FamilyTalk plan, $15 per month less than the price of the previous entry level bundle.

For new iPad customers, the $25 per month 2 GB plan will replace the existing $29.99 unlimited plan. iPad customers will continue to pre-pay for their wireless data plan and no contract is required. Existing iPad customers who have the $29.99 per month unlimited plan can keep that plan or switch to the new $25 per month plan with 2 GB of data.

Could someone explain to me why any current iPad customer in their right mind would switch from $29.99 a month for unlimited to $25 a month for only 2 GB of data? You save $5 a month, but risk going over and paying penalties … yeah, think I’d stick with my current plan.

All of this is shrouded in a “lets help the customers” wrapping, but it certainly feels restrictive.  And why not go ahead and offer an unlimited plan for that supposed two percent of customers who go over 2 GBs of data a month?  Apparently the cellular carriers truly are serious about doing away with unlimited plans.  Luckily there will be text message notices of when you are using up your data to help you avoid additional charges, but these still feel pretty tight.  You just have to wonder how long until the other carriers follow the same path.

What say you?  How do you feel about these changes?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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