Sunday, June 6, 2010

What You Need To Know About The New AT&T Data Plans

For all of you who complained that $30/month for unlimited data on AT&T was too expensive, thank you for this debacle.

If you haven't heard yet AT&T is changing its data plans for all of its smartphones (including the iPhone and iPad) effective June 7, 2010:

DataPlus - 200MB/month for $15/month; if customers exceed 200MB in a monthly billing cycle they will receive an additional 200MB of data for $15 for use in the cycle.

DataPro - 2GB/month for $25/month; if a customer exceeds 2GB during a billing cycle they will receive an additional 1GB for $10 for use in the cycle.

Tethering - An additional $20/month; only for DataPro customers; will launch when iPhone OS 4 is released.

Here's where early adopters of the iPhone are rewarded. Those who bought the original iPhone, iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS with unlimited data plans will be able to keep them - even if you decide to buy the 4th-generation iPhone with a new two-year contract. The data plans are only for new customers or if you willingly decide to change your data plan.

There is good and bad news with the new plans, according to Gizmodo:

"...AT&T tells us that if you're running over the 200MB limit, you can
actually switch to the beefier 2GB DataPro completely pain-free (no ETFs or any
of that business), and then switch back to the skinnier plan "over time."
With DataPro, if you run over 2GB, you get another 1GB of data for $10, ad
infinitum. So, if you use 5GB of data, you're looking at a $55 bill for

The worst part of all of this is the tethering option. First of all, you can't tether a device with an unlimited data plan. You'll have to switch to the DataPro plan which is a measly 2GB/month. On a smartphone only the heaviest users will use more than 2GB a month. But, one would think that you could use 2GB awfully fast on a laptop, especially if you like to watch YouTube or Hulu videos. Jailbreaking your iPhone and buying MyWi is looking better by the day.

It gets a little more complicated for iPad WiFi+3G users. If you would like to stay with the $29.99+tax unlimited data plan, you need to sign up for it before June 7 and make sure you never cancel it. So, it will have to be a recurring charge every month. If you order an iPad WiFi+3G before June 7, the unlimited data plan will be honored. Still, this really puts a dent into my plan to pay for 3G whenever I needed it then cancel. Getting a smartphone that makes a Wi-Fi hotspot (Palm Pre Plus, HTC EVO 4G) or buying a separate hot spot (Verizon's MiFi, Sprint's Overdrive 3G/4G) to use with a Wi-Fi only iPad is looking better by the day. And, no, you can't tether your iPhone with your iPad.

Although I have never used more than 2GB in one monthly billing cycle, I'm going to stick with the unlimited plan for the iPhone. I have no plans to tether and I don't want to be counting megabytes. Although for some people, saving $60 a year with the DataPro plan and $75 a year with the DataPlus plan (I'm looking at you BlackBerry users) is a significant savings. To me, there at least be one more tier like 5GB a month for $40/month. And for those of you on other carriers, your day is coming soon. A top executive with Verizon has already said that being allowed to consume as much data as you want will have to change and it looks like Verizon is looking at non-unlimited data plans for its LTE 4G network. We'll have to wait and see about T-Mobile and Sprint.

For the iPad, I'm reluctantly signing up for the recurring $29.99+tax unlimited 3G plan until I find a way to track how much 3G data I'm using per month.


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