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
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
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.