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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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How to beat the system
By corduroygt on 6/2/2010 9:23:26 AM , Rating: 3
If you are a heavy iphone data user who also wants tethering, this is your best option:

1. Buy a free phone with 2 year contract from AT&T, a nokia or something, but make sure it doesn't require any kind of data/messaging plan.
2. Add the $15 data unlimited plan to it
3. Buy your iphone factory unlocked from europe/asia, not a jailbroken/unlocked AT&T phone from ebay! This step is important. The IMEI of the phone must not be in the AT&T iphone database, so they can't tell that you're using an iphone and change your plan.
4. Jailbreak the iphone and install the unsigned AT&T carrier bundle that allows tethering.
5. Take the sim card out of your free phone and put it in iphone.

Cost comparison:

$799 (unlocked iphone) + $15*24 = $1159
vs.
$199 (contract iphone price) + $45*24 = $1279

My suggestion is already cheaper, and that's with using just 2GB/month. If you're a heavy user and use 4GB/month on the average, you'd pay:
$199 + $65*24 = $1759

This is before any voice plan fees, which are the same for both plans. Also, a factory unlocked iphone can be sold for more money on ebay when you're done with it.
As you can see, even if you use 2GB, my method works out to be cheaper, the savings add up substantially when you use more than 2GB




RE: How to beat the system
By HrilL on 6/2/2010 10:48:13 AM , Rating: 2
If you have a family plan you can add unlimited data for $10/month on normal phones.


RE: How to beat the system
By kidboodah on 6/2/2010 12:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately....AT&T's system is no longer that dumb.

They do IMEI sweeps every other day or so. If your SIM card remains in an IMEI that comes up as an iPhone, you'll receive a text message letting you know that the iPhone data plan has been added to your account automatically.

You used to be able to beat the system...but no longer.


RE: How to beat the system
By Myrandex on 6/2/2010 3:47:11 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't pay attention to the 1 critical step...must be a non AT&T iphone (meaning a european version). This IMEI wouldn't register on AT&T's network, giving access to the $15 or $10 unlimited data plans (which is what I am doing, although not w/ a stupid iphone but with other smartphones).

Jason


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