AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

Summary: Given that AT&Ts network already seems to be creaking under the load of millions of iPhone users checking their email, watching YouTube and uploading new LOLcats, "unlimited" really was an offer too good to last. AT&T is announcing changes to it's iPhone and iPad data plans that try to wean data-hungry users off the all-you-can-eat plans.

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Given that AT&Ts network already seems to be creaking under the load of millions of iPhone users checking their email, watching YouTube and uploading new LOLcats, "unlimited" really was an offer too good to last. AT&T is announcing changes to it's iPhone and iPad data plans that try to wean data-hungry users off the all-you-can-eat plans.

First there are changes to iPhone users. They only affect users who will want to the tethering option, but the upper limit on this data plan will be 2GB:

  • DataPlus. Provides 200 megabytes (MB) of data – for example, enough to send/receive 1,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 150 emails with attachments, plus view 400 Web pages, plus post 50 photos on social media sites, plus watch 20 minutes of streaming video – for just $15 per month.** This plan, which can save customers up to 50 percent off their wireless data charges, is designed for people who primarily like to surf the web, send email and use social networking apps. If customers exceed 200 MB in a monthly billing cycle, they will receive an additional 200 MB of data usage for $15 for use in the cycle. Currently, 65 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data per month on average.
  • DataPro. Provides 2 gigabytes (GB) of data – for example, enough to send/receive 10,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 1,500 emails with attachments, plus view 4,000 Web pages, plus post 500 photos to social media sites, plus watch 200 minutes of streaming video – for $25 per month.** Should a customer exceed 2 GB during a billing cycle, they will receive an additional 1 GB of data for $10 for use in the cycle. Currently, 98 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB of data a month on average.
  • Tethering. Smartphone customers – including iPhone customers – who choose the DataPro plan have the option to add tethering for an additional $20 per month. Tethering lets customers use their tethering-enabled smartphones as a modem to provide a broadband connection for laptop computers, netbooks or other computing devices. Tethering for iPhones will be available when Apple releases iPhone OS 4 this summer.

There are also changes to the iPad offerings too:

For new iPad customers, the $25 per month 2 GB plan will replace the existing $29.99 unlimited plan. iPad customers will continue to pre-pay for their wireless data plan and no contract is required. Existing iPad customers who have the $29.99 per month unlimited plan can keep that plan or switch to the new $25 per month plan with 2 GB of data.

For some, this will save money, but for heavy data users they are a sign of things to come. These are some pretty aggressive cuts to the data plans, and while they only affect a small percentage of users, those users are going to have to seriously change their ways or the overcharges are going to be crazy.

These plans will come into effect June 7th.

Topics: Hardware, Collaboration, iPhone, iPad, Mobility, Smartphones, AT&T

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35 comments
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  • AT&T: Today's Network Tomorrow

    AT&T has always promised things will get better "in the coming year". Of course, they're adding subscribers and data usage is growing tremendously. So at best, they're treading water. In the Northern Virginia area, my service in the past 6-9 months is by far the worst it has been in over 10 years with them! Yeah, keep adding data plans, AT&T. Maybe I should consider moving to Sprint or T Mobile, because their customer base is shrinking.... :D
    bmgoodman
  • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

    Getting my iPad 3G this month. I will be interested to see Steve Jobs response to the "bait and switch" AT&T is about to pull...
    marc@...
  • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

    I stand to save money but will still be stuck with an unreliable network. I live in Central Florida and at best we get 1.4 Mbps on AT&T. Verizon is a much more reliable network down here and we still get 1.2 Mbps. I love the iPhone but hate the service. AT&T has had ample time to make money based on its exclusivity with the iphone. Now its time for it to come to toher providers that will be able to offer the quality of service that we deserve for the high prices we have been paying. I would gladly keep paying what I currently do if it ment I would always be able to connect at 3G (or better). Also, why does it cost more for me to tether? If I stay within the aloted MB/GB per month, or am willing to the additional money for overages then I should be able to tether. It is decisions like this that make me want to change carriers...even if it means I have to change phones. My only hope is the Verizon/Sprint iPhone will come out sooner rather than later and that it will not be some sort of willfully crippled device.
    wurthers
  • Class action lawsuit

    I would favor a class action lawsuit against both Apple and AT&T for changing the terms of its much touted iPad debut a month after the iPad 3G is released. This is unfair to the customer and there should be an investigation.
    docwolfie
    • You do realize this is not retroactive?

      @docwolfie
      or do you want some whine with your cheese?
      Bruizer
      • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

        @Bruizer
        But what about the customers who ordered one and are still waiting to get it, which 3G plan will they get ???
        mrlinux
      • We don't need no stinking retroactive!

        @Bruizer That?s true. However, many people purchased the 3G iPad with the understanding that there was no contract so they could turn the 3G service on and off when they needed it. You could keep it off and then when you were going on a trip, you could activate the 3G for the month and then turn it off when you got back home. The retroactive status you commented on is only correct if you never turn it off. The policy now is that once you turn it off, the next time you turn it on you loose the retroactive status and are stuck with the new pricing and reduced data volume. No wine for you, just cheese.
        Sanford195
        • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

          @Sanford195 Well it's clear AT&T doesn't want or can't handle the iPad or the iPhone usage and forget the voice service on anything. Apple should just put them out of their misery and start adding other GSM providers. AT&T can only damage the Apple Brand. This new data pricing plan which Apple had to know about and agree to, has now provided the guilt by association link that now puts apple in the same category with at&t, bait and switch artists that don't really give a sh_t about their customers.
          Sanford195
  • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

    I think making people pay for data usage makes sense but to charge for how it is used at the same time is insulting to their customer's intelligence.
    landon42
  • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

    This new smartphone price plan is radically cheaper than before if you didn't have an unlimited plan, but those of us with WWAN access in our laptops are still paying a lot when you break it down for typical 5GB-10GB monthly usage. Heck, virus scanner updates and patch Tuesdays add up!

    One can dream that those prices will change soon too?
    jrp@...
  • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

    Does anybody have any idea how much data they use in a month on their iPad or their iPhones? I'm resetting my wife's iPhone this evening to see what she uses in a month, and will load up my Motion GPS HD on the iPad this evening and see what 10 minutes of map intensive data uses...
    David Scubadiver
    • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

      @David Scubadiver

      Wireless bill should show monthly data usage - I know mine does. I end up using about 500GB a month, so will be pushed into the higher package. I would bet at&t did some analysis and set levels in such a way that many users were still forced to buy up.

      I still question what it costs for them to deliver the data, is it similar to text messages, and if so, will it start to cause some sort of congressional wrath for the treatment of consumers.
      tbuccelli
      • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

        @tbuccelli Oh, my, half a terabyte a month. On a T1, that would be a little over 30 days of pegging the pipe. If you download that much on a phone, they should charge you.
        grant@...
    • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

      @David Scubadiver

      [u]http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/at-t-mywireless-mobile/id309172177?mt=8[/u]

      A free app to monitor your usage.
      msalzberg
  • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

    Just checked my wife's account - for the iPhone she used a maximum of 150 megs in the past six months. So I think this is going to save us a bit of money. I stupidly upgraded from the $15 to the $30 ipad plan only 1 week into the thing just in case I was going to want to be grandfathered. That was a waste.
    David Scubadiver
  • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

    Exactly what part of 'existing customers will not be required to change their plans' do some of you not understand?

    If you are among the 98% of customers who use less than 2 GB of data a month, then you will be able to lower your bill by $5 a month, and if you are among the 65% who use less than 200MB a month, then you can cut your monthly bill by $15, if you go over the limits, you can purchase an additional bucket rather than paying the insanely expensive $2/MB data pay per use rate, and if you are someone who uses more than 2GB a month than you can keep your current plan for as long as you like. You will not be required to change your plan either now or later with the upgrade to a new smart phone. The only restriction is that if you choose to change to the new tiered plans, then you cannot go back to the unlimited plan.

    And as far as the iPad goes, there is no monthly contract on the iPad and the T&C explicitly state that no price plan is guaranteed for any length of time and that prices can change. But existing iPad customers will be allowed to keep the old plans if they wish.

    This seems like win/win/win for everybody involved, there is no need for the whining,it is completely fair and reasonable and is a change that will be welcomed by the majority of at&t smart phone customers

    Smart phones will now be more affordable for everybody, there is no basis for a complaint here.
    Doctor Demento
    • You assume that the 98% is an accurate statement....

      @Doctor Demento
      With the new iphone if it has a front facing camera for video chat, this will change equation.

      98% < 2gb is that 90% @ 1.99gb, so you think you save $5 but it will cost you $10 if you go over, so the net result is that you will be paying $5 more a month.

      AT&T is not doing this to lower their income, so there is a gotcha somewhere !!!!!!
      mrlinux
      • There's no gotcha here

        Obviously, a switch from unlimited bandwidth to limited amount plans is intended to increase revenue. The plan says that you pay for what you use.

        Use up to 2GB, pay $25. Use more, pay $10 for the next 2GB. Where's the gotcha?

        The fact that it is now your responsibility to monitor your usage is no more a gotcha than it is in your car where you must check your gas gauge. No one likes a rate increase but it is described openly. It's not a trick.

        What is missing is a notification from ATT at 1.8GB that you are about to go over and incur more charges. I would certainly like to see all cell providers forced to do that like they are in the EU.
        donniebnyc666
      • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

        @mrlinux

        The goal is to respond to complaints from at&t customers that the mandatory smart phone data plan is too expensive and that other carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile offer cheaper rates.

        The new tiered pricing structure makes the pricing more competetive therefore making it less expensive to own a smart phone and reducing churn that results from what is seen as an unreasonably high price for smart phone data.

        Just like earlier this year when both at&t and Verizon slashed the price of the unlimited voice plan from $99.99 to $69.99, the goal is to make up for the loss in revenue per subscriber by increasing the total number of subscribers and offering those who already a customer the option of lowering their monthly bill to prevent theem from switching to another carrier.

        Now, thousands or perhaps millions of people who are interested in getting a new iPhone or Blackberry or what have you but held off because of the $30 a month fee, will have more incentive to switch to smart phone.

        This is economics 101, reduce the amount you earn per sale and make up for it by volume.
        Doctor Demento
      • RE: AT&T starts putting the brakes on unlimited iPhone/iPad data

        @mrlinux Perhaps it is to increase revenue, but it is also possibly to make people cognizant of their data usage, and reduce network traffic.
        grant@...