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AT&T says that the new plans are "right-sized" for its customers

AT&T is making some big changes to the way it charges for data usage with its smartphones. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam gave us a hint of these upcoming changes for its own 4G service last week (and AT&T has mentioned it before), but AT&T is now implementing them across the board on its current 3G network.

AT&T is replacing its current $30/month unlimited data plan with DataPlus and DataPro. DataPlus will give users access to 200MB of data a month for only $15/month. If customers go over the 200MB cap, they will be charged $15 for another 200MB of data instead of the currently outrageous per/MB overage charges.

The new top-ranging data plan is called DataPro and gives users a monthly cap of 2GB for $25/month. Once customers fly past their monthly cap, AT&T will charge an additional $10 for another gigabyte of data. For example, if a customer uses 2.01GB of data, you'll be charged $35.

For those that only use relatively small amounts of data, but see a spike in usage for some reason, AT&T makes it easy to switch between the DataPlus and DataPro plans. If you start off with the DataPlus plan during the month and see that you are starting to exceed your monthly allotment, you can switch to DataPro at any time and have the charge pro-rated or have it apply retroactively to start of your currently active billing cycle.

As for you future iPad owners out there, the $30 unlimited data plan is also getting axed and replaced with the $25 DataPro package.

Now before all of AT&T's current customers start panicking, AT&T is grandfathering in customers already on the current $30 unlimited data plan. If you would like to keep using as much data as you want, don't change a thing and go about your business as usual. You can switch to the DataPlus or DataPro at any time, but you'll likely lose the ability to ever go back to the unlimited data plan.

For its part, AT&T feels that these new plans are better for customers because 65 percent use less than 200MB/month and 98 percent use less than 2GB/month making the lower pricing more palatable.

“AT&T helps mobilize everything on the Internet – your favorite web sites, TV shows, music, games and social networks. Virtually everything previously done while sitting at a computer can now be done on the go,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “To give more people the opportunity to experience these benefits, we’re breaking free from the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ pricing model and making the mobile Internet more affordable to a greater number of people.”

All of the new changes go into effect June 7.

On a final note, AT&T has also announced that iPhone users will gain access to tethering with the release of iPhone OS 4.0. It will be available to DataPro subscribers for an additional $20/month. In a cruel twist, it appears that the only way to legally obtain tethering is to go with the DataPro plan – so if you're currently on an unlimited plan (which lends itself nicely to tethering) you'll have to switch to the inferior DataPro plan and never look back.



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RE: Deep pockets
By The Drake on 6/2/2010 7:33:38 AM , Rating: 3
Ya know, I am wondering how correct those statistics are. We all know ATT has had trouble with their network being bogged down so this is a logical step for them to keep that from happening. To keep them from looking like the bad guy why dont they just exaggerate the numbers to make it look like 2GB is plenty for nearly everyone on their network? Just speculating here...


RE: Deep pockets
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 6/2/2010 8:47:12 AM , Rating: 2
You know, I consider myself a power user and I use on average 200 to 500MB a month. The most I have ever used was about 1.1GB per month and that was during CES which is understandable.

I honestly think that AT&Ts numbers are probably accurate -- for those that are using the phone as intended and not using unauthorized tethering.


RE: Deep pockets
By BSMonitor on 6/2/2010 9:36:09 AM , Rating: 2
Almost certainly.. Every big corporation has statistics upon statistics upon statistics... Some geeky data miner almost certainly passed the info along to someone with several yachts and that someone made the call...

The guy who did F' up was the one who said, "well, the iPhone won't significantly tax our existing cell network, it will be a niche product..." I hope that guy had to sell his yachts..


RE: Deep pockets
By mcnabney on 6/2/2010 10:18:55 AM , Rating: 1
Actually, they probably bought him another yacht.

You think the iSheep are going to switch to another carrier and lose their precious iProduct? Nope, they will bleat and bleat, but AT&T knows that they aren't going anywhere.


RE: Deep pockets
By ksherman on 6/2/2010 12:01:27 PM , Rating: 2
You're wrong.

I'm leaving. Just when I was being enticed at a 960x640 display and hoping for a 64GB version, the EVO 4G is crying out to my sensibilities (and I live in a 4G area with pretty good coverage).

See ya iPhone, aloha EVO.


RE: Deep pockets
By VahnTitrio on 6/2/2010 10:02:01 AM , Rating: 3
That may be true now, but who knows what those numbers will be by the end of a newly signed 2 year contract. With faster networks and better featured phones, data consumption is only going up. It can't take too many HQ Youtube videos to hit the 200MB mark.


RE: Deep pockets
By HotFoot on 6/2/2010 10:32:13 AM , Rating: 2
For regular smart-phone use, I can believe their numbers, but I would really like to get into much more tethering.

My current provider has:
$10 for 50 MB
$20 for 500 MB
$35 for unlimited

I've never gone over 500 MB except when I'm doing a lot of tethering and VoIP. I do like having the unlimited option, though, even if it is nearly twice as expensive.


RE: Deep pockets
By dj LiTh on 6/2/2010 6:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
poweruser?

....reDONKulous


RE: Deep pockets
By HrilL on 6/2/2010 10:59:04 AM , Rating: 3
The numbers seem correct but if that is the case then why make the change? Wouldn't they stand to make more even if a few users abuse the system? I mean $30/month from everyone is better than $15/month from 65% of your smart phone users and $25/month from the other 35%. Is is really logical to lose the insane amount of profit to stop the 2% from abusing unlimited plans? And really it can't be considered abuse because it is unlimited.

Going to metered pricing is going backwards. The price per gigabyte on 4G is even cheaper. If other carriers follow suite I'd have to say that is a form of price fixing and we'll need the FTC to investigate because if the price is going down then there is no reason to limit data usage more. I mean its only logical. As the cost per Gigabyte goes down the amount of data allotted should go up not down.


RE: Deep pockets
By Alexstarfire on 6/2/2010 12:09:32 PM , Rating: 2
I imagine the reason is so that they can make money on overages. Though, even then it seems like they'd only really break even. They probably know something we don't.


RE: Deep pockets
By jimbojimbo on 6/2/2010 1:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps wi-fi will suddenly break in a bunch of their phones?


RE: Deep pockets
By afkrotch on 6/2/2010 8:59:42 PM , Rating: 2
Sometimes you need to step backwards, before you can step forward. At least, in the profit game.

In a year, expect to see your $15/month for 20 mb and $25/month for 200 mb.


RE: Deep pockets
By Drag0nFire on 6/2/2010 11:04:35 AM , Rating: 5
Maybe they're including "dumb" phones in their statistics...


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