AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

Is AT&T's bandwidth bursting at the seams? The company released a bunch of new plans, all designed to save you money and / or lessen the burden on its network.

Earlier today, AT&T released new data plans that carry both positives and negatives.

According to the company's press release, iPhone users will now have the option of paying an extra $20 a month for the ability to tether their iPhone. The only requirement is that you must also be a subscriber to the DataPro plan, which means that you're capped at 2 GB and will pay a total of $45 a month before any overage fees.

On the iPad front, new iPad owners no longer have an unlimited, $29.99 option, but instead can choose the 2GB of data "DataPro" plan for $25 a month. Existing iPad owners can still enjoy the $29.99 unlimited option, though.

If you're not a heavy user of data, AT&T is offering up a cheaper "DataPlus" plan at just $15 a month for 200 MB of data.

It's not surprising to see AT&T revamping its data plans. After all, with so many iPads and iPhones on the loose in the United States, consumers must be eating up a tremendous amount of bandwidth.

AT&T isn't gouging customers right away, either. It seems that with the new data plans, if you hit over the limit, the company is offering up some additional bandwidth at a reduced charge. For example, if you're on the DataPlus plan and use up your 200 MB of data, for another $15 per billing cycle you can buy an additional 200 MB. On the DataPro plan, $10 will buy you an additional 1 GB of data for use in the billing cycle. AT&T also mentioned that it's planning to send text messages or emails to customers as they approach their monthly usage limit.

If you believe AT&T's claims, 65 percent of AT&T smartphone customers are using less than 200 MB of data per month, on average. Given those numbers, AT&T's new plans will be a welcome change for a number of customers.

I'm still torn on the removal of the unlimited option for iPad data, though. Currently, I'm using the 250 MB option, but I liked the idea of going unlimited if I was traveling. As for the tethering, $45 a month isn't terrible, but it's capped at 2 GB a month, which definitely doesn't make it a must-have. Then again, I could pay the $45 a month and share data between my iPhone and my iPad and every other device. Now I have until June 7th, when the new plans come into play, to make a final decision.

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