AT&T says that customers that tether gobble up more data, yet data restrictions still choke those same users
AT&T's Mark Collins says that those who tether use more bandwidth, yet the data cap still isn't raised

Reaction to AT&T's smartphone data plan adjustments have been rather mixed. On the one hand, smartphone users that have greater access to Wi-Fi hotspots or simply don't use much 3G data stand to save $5 to $15 per month on their monthly bill.

On the other hand, those who have grown attached to their "unlimited" data plans took serious offense to the 2GB caps that AT&T is now imposing for new smartphone contracts starting June 7 (it should be noted that those that wish to keep their $30 unlimited data plans can continue to do so, and even upgrade to new hardware while keeping the unlimited data plan).

Our own "unscientific" poll of tech enthusiasts shows that nearly a quarter of smartphone users consume more than 2GB of data per month.

AT&T has offered a tethering option for smartphones in the past (with the exception of the iPhone), so it's not exactly unheard of to charge for the feature. However, with this new 2GB cap in place, one thing that has seemed quite puzzling to many people is AT&T's $20 tethering charge in the face of these lower caps.

Mark Collins, AT&T's senior VP of data and voice products, mobility and consumer products, thinks that it's quite simple:

That capability is enabling something you can’t do today. You can use one device and get multiple connections so it’s more useful to you. You’re going to use more data so the price is based on the value that will be delivered.

Tethering a smartphone to a notebook would no doubt result in an increased rate of data consumption. With the old tethering data plan in place, customers could tether up to 5GB which should be enough to cover most heavy downloaders. However, with these new restrictions in place, it doesn't matter if you are using your smartphone for everyday tasks or tethering; you're still limited to same restrictive 2GB of data per month.

It remains to be seen how long these 2GB data caps will stay in place in an increasingly connected world, but boosted limits for tethering can't come any fast enough it seems.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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