7 year itch: AT&T raising unlimited data plan price for first time since 2008

If you still have the original unlimited data plan from the early iPhone days, it's still a good deal: Even with the 22 GB monthly soft cap, you'll now pay $35 for data.

Been holding on to that AT&T unlimited data plan like a dog with a bone since your iPhone 3G? You can still keep it, but you're going to pay a little more for it.

Starting February 2016, the carrier will be boosting the data fee by $5 for any customers that have maintained their original unlimited mobile broadband account for all these years.

That brings the monthly charge for unlimited data to $35, which is still a bargain, of course. And although the plan originally started as all the mobile data you can use in a month, AT&T does have a soft cap of 22 GB per billing cycle. Exceed it and your speeds for any additional data use will be slowed if you're in what AT&T calls a "congested area."

Frankly, I'm surprised it took AT&T seven years to raise the unlimited data plan fee because it surely wants all of its customers on higher priced plans that offer fewer gigabytes of data service per month. The company moved to data tiers back in 2011 but allowed customers to keep their unlimited plans if they wanted. And I'm betting this is the beginning of rising fees for the old unlimited plans that it no longer offers.

Customers that don't want to pay the additional fee can switch to plans that the carrier currently offers at any time, for no charge; how convenient! Switching away from the unlimited plan means it's gone forever, though.

And because this is a material change to the original contract terms, the carrier is waiving the ETF, or early termination fee, for any impacted lines, provided customers cancel service within 60 days of the price increase.

Is paying $60 a year more going to sway many AT&T subscribers that have held on to their unlimited plans like it was the last life jacket on the Titanic?

I doubt it. Choosing a current 20 GB a month smartphone plan costs $140 a month plus a device access charge, so $35 a month is still a steal.

How about it readers that still have the old unlimited data plan: What would it take to make you give up the plan you've kept since the current smartphone era began in earnest?