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

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

Summary: 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.

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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.

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

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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

    Can you say "Bait and switch"?
    Casgo
    • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

      @Casgo - Where's the "Bait and Switch?" Anyone with an unlimited plan gets to keep it, if they want to. Only those who haven't purchased an iPad are affected. There isn't a "Bait and Switch?" here. In fact, if you buy today, you can still get the unlimited plan. The changes don't go into effect until the 7th.
      NSL
      • Because the IPad sale page on apple.com has the old plans

        I just bought another IPad online from Apple yesterday. When I bought it, and as of this moment, Apple.com goes on and on about the unlimited data plan for the IPad.

        In the case of smartphones, I can understand a 2gb limit, especially in light of tethering.

        But for the IPad? This is a device with 3G in it's name, with a $129 premium over the plain wi-fi version, that is made to CONSUME media in mass. Apple and SJ have used the fact that it has an unlimited plan as a strong selling point and as part of the philosophy of the IPad brand. This is supposed to be a device that I just use and don't have to worry about the technical issues of bandwidth usage, etc. For the technical, the unlimited bandwidth option means that the 16Gb 3g can be viewed as a cloud device where your media is served up over the internet, and the need for the 64Gb model doesn't make sense. Take away the unlimited plan though, and tell people to go find Wi-Fi hotspots, and you've just gutted the whole purpose of the 3g model.

        If ATT and Apple had waited 6 months in, and then given notice on the Apple store website with 30 days lead time, then it would be slightly more reasonable. But to be honest, Apple sold unlimited bandwidth as a KEY feature of the IPad 3g, and frankly they should be held to that for all IPad's sold while they were pushing it that way.
        AlanO93
      • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

        @NSL

        How is it bait and switch when there is no contract and part of the Terms and Conditions you have to agree to when activating your iPad is that price plans are not guaranteed and can change at any time?
        Doctor Demento
      • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

        @NSL The "bait and switch" is with the tens of thousands of people -- like myself -- who ordered iPads before today's announcement but won't receive them until after the June 7th cutoff date. I ordered my iPad on May 22nd; it wasn't scheduled to arrive until June 15th.

        I canceled my order. ..bruce..
        bwebster@...
  • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

    So umlimited data was unlimited for, what, two months? Can you say class action lawsuit?
    bdegrande
    • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

      @bdegrande - Anyone who already has an unlimited plan can keep it. Only new customers can't get an unlimited plan. So what's there to sue about? Answer: Nothing.
      NSL
      • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

        @NSL the ipad's data plan was touted as a "pay when you need it" option. If i wanted, I could use the 3g unit on only wifi, then when I go on vacation I could activate a month of unlimited data. after the month the service would end and I could go back about my wifi business. This abandoning of the initial offer of unlimited data whenever we need it completely nullifies the reason I purchased into their platform to begin with. I'll be sorely disappointed if there ISN'T legal action.

        This is a text-book example of bait-and-switch. Shame on ATT and shame on Apple.
        danyowell
      • Why hasn't Apple changed their website yet then?

        NSL, do you even OWN an IPad 3g? The point is, the 3G unit was sold as (you can have unlimited 3G whenever you need it, without a contract.) You only get to keep the unlimited plan if you currently have it ACTIVE and do not let it lapse or go inactive (This is the current understanding of the changes) And moreso, there is nothing to keep ATT from changing this in another month, killing ALL unlimited plans.

        This feature was not just a minor thing toward the bottom of the bulleted list of IPad features, but a major selling point that is prominent throughout the IPad sales material. It is there right now at Apple.com. Go look. Whole chunks of the IPad page go on about this. It's discussed thoroughly in the FAQ also.

        ..You sign up for 3G service right on your iPad. And you can monitor your data usage and change your plan at any time, including switching to unlimited data or canceling 3G service if you know you won't need it...

        So, when a vendor advertises a product with an important feature that it uses to differentiate it, and charges a hefty premium for this feature, then removes it after the point of sale, how is this NOT bait and switch?

        Apple needs to change their website now. I also realize that this is an ATT thing, but come on, this really tarnishs an amazing product.
        AlanO93
  • More Affordable

    For those of us still using a "dumb phone" who were perturbed at potentially spending $70 to $90 a month for a smart phone, this is a great deal.

    With their cheapest data plan and voice service, a smart phone costs as little as $55 per month before taxes and add-on fees, down from $70 per month.

    This puts it nearly par with Virgin Mobile's new no-contract data and voice plans. But I'm not sure whose voice and data service is more reliable and robust (AT&T vs a Sprint MVNO).

    200 MB should be enough if you limit video and music usage.
    Mwendo
  • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

    Dr. Viturbi (Qualcomm) said that at&t's European type data system wasn't a good idea. He was right!
    tburzio
  • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

    This will kill iPad sales. Bought my 3G because of the unlimited plan. Would not have bought it otherwise. There are many like me. Surprised Apple does not have ATT under a contract on this price. You can blow through 2GB pretty quick with a good connection. Note that 2GB is the size limit on ONE youtube movie. I've had better luck in Airports with 3G than with ATT WiFi Hotspots.
    breitigam
  • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

    I've been waiting for this to happen. I'm just surprised that the limit isn't 5GB/month on the "Pro" plan. At 2GB I suspect iPad sales to be negatively impacted. If they were at 5GB, I don't think they would be. Moreover, the savings of $4.99 ($59.88 annually) is a drop in the bucket for most and won't be enticing any current user to drop their unlimited.<br><br>I wonder how many will go for tethering, when their total usage is capped at 2GB (according to how I read the ATT press release) including the tethering. For me it's a no brainer. As much as I'd like tethering, the cap makes it useless.<br><br>The one thing I really was pleased at in the ATT press release was that AT&T smartphone customers have access at no additional charge to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S. Now that's helpful for those in major metropolitan areas, but the number isn't as large as it sounds. It needs to grow.
    NSL
    • For the majority of AT&T customers...

      who use less that 200MB/month, there's a $15/month savings, or $180/year.

      I generally use less than 150MB/month, so the bill for my iPhone will go from $80/month to $65/month, which is less than I pay for my daughter's Blackberry on Verizon.
      msalzberg
  • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

    I filed a complaint with the better business bureau.
    docwolfie
    • Can you tell us...

      exactly what your complaint was?
      msalzberg
      • Well

        @msalzberg <br><br>I cannot speak for docwolfie but looking at Apple's web site it advertises two data plans, the 250MB and unlimited ones. Subscription, at any time, with no activation or cancellation fees. There is no mention on Apple's web site that this plans pricing is at the whim of AT&T. I have two iPad 3G's myself, one already is on the unlimited data plan, for my wife's we only bought the data for 1 month. So, if come August when we go on vacation if I reactivate her iPads data plan and don't find an unlimited option for $29.99 I think I might have a valid complaint.<br><br>OTOH I really like the new data plans with tethering. The one reason I did not buy a mifi router from Verizon was their outrageous overage fees (what $50/GB or something like that) plus it's another device to carry. I agree with others, 2GB isn't a ton of data, but it's well above my typical usage so I will definitely be saving money here.
        oncall
      • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

        @oncall

        I agree that Apple will have to update their website.

        However, it specifically states that you have to buy the plan through AT&T, and that it is sold separately.

        I don't understand this statement: "I have two iPad 3G's myself, one already is on the unlimited data plan, for my wife's we only bought the data for 1 month." The AT&T iPad 3G plans are month by month only, aren't they?
        msalzberg
      • RE: AT&T's new plans: iPhone tethering but no more unlimited iPad 3G data

        @msalzberg

        I consider it a "plan", you sign up and they charge you every month for service until you tell them to stop. With mine I get an email notification every month "we have successfully billed you $29.99" or something to that effect. With my wife's we signed up and paid for the unlimited plan then a few days later canceled the plan but the service continued for the full 30 days.

        So I guess it's a "plan" but with no long term commitment? My "plan" for the moment is to continue my iPad's unlimited plan, for the time being, thought I may give it up considering I have never touched a 2GB/mo usage with my iPhone or my iPad.

        Actually I think these new plans are quite good $24.99/2GB/mo with no commitment or start-up fees. I almost bought a Verizon mifi at $60/5GB/mo with a two-year commitment, talk about a rip-off if you don't use that kinds of bandwidth.
        oncall
      • @oncall...

        My mistake. I didn't realize that you could automatically re-up for another month.

        As I understand it, if you currently have an unlimited plan with auto-renewal, you stay unlimited. If and when you stop renewing, you go to the new lower data limits.
        msalzberg