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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 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.

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