The real cost of AT&T's basic data plan

AT&T's $15 per month, basic data plan can add up quickly if you use more than the allotted 200MB of data. Here's a look at the numbers.

A guest blog by Rob Lee.

I just got off of the phone with AT&T business customer care where I was discussing the $15/200MB data plan versus the $25/2GB plan.

I uncovered what could be a very expensive proposition for anyone signing up for the $15/month, basic data plan.

Here is a recap of the numbers:

  • Monthly Fee $15 -- Data Cap 200MB
  • First Overage +$15 -- $30 -- Total Cap 400MB
  • Second Overage+$15 -- $45 -- Total Cap 600MB
  • ...
  • 9th Overage +$15 -- $150 -- Total Cap 2GB

If you sign up for the basic plan and use 2GB, your total cost for the month will be $150.

On the other hand, the $25 per month/2GB plan has an overage fee of only $10 and adds another 1GB to the total cap for the month. So the first overage would cost $10 and deliver 3GB of data -- all for a total of $35.

Most people don't realize the magnitude of the charges they will incur with the $15 data plan if they go over. It's much like the old cellular minute plans, where the lower the commitment, the higher the penalty for using the service – this is the same abusive service model.

AT&T stated that this is the contractual arrangement they have with Apple to supply data and knowing that Apple gets a residual on the data plan revenue from AT&T, I believe that Apple were quick to want this pricing model in place.

This is an item which will cause a lot of ill feelings and fodder for discussion once the issue is made public in a clear way.