Further validating the rumors of an imminent 4th gen iPhone announcement at WWDC on Monday, AT&T has just announced the following changes to their smartphone data plans which will coincidentally go into effect on Monday June 7th.
Currently AT&T offers an “unlimited” data plan for iPhones which costs $30 per month. Note the unlimited is in quotes as this is not in fact unlimited, but rather a 5GB bandwidth cap that AT&T has been using to cap prolific users of the service.
On June 7th, this unlimited plan will be going away to make way for two new cheaper options.
DataPlus (200 MB for $15 per month)
This plan gives users 200 MB of data for $15 per month. Should you need additional bandwidth during a billing cycle, subsequent units of 200 MB of data usage can be purchased for $15 for use in the cycle. AT&T claims that 65 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data per month on average, so this will be a huge 50% savings for those customers. To give you an idea of what 200 MB equates to, it’s 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. It is designed for people who primarily like to surf the web, send email and use social networking apps.
DataPro (2GB for $25 per month)
This plan gives users 2 GB of data for $15 per month. Should you need additional bandwidth during a billing cycle, subsequent units of 1 GB of data usage can be purchased for $10 for use in the cycle. AT&T claims that currently 98 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB of data per month on average, so this option would offer a $5 per month savings for many customers. To give you an idea of what 2 GB equates to, it’s enough 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.
How Does This Effect iPad Owners?
New iPad customers will need to purchase the $25 per month 2 GB plan. Existing iPad customers who have the $29.99 per month unlimited plan may choose to keep that plan or switch to the new $25 per month plan with 2 GB of data. regardless of the plan, all iPad users will continue to pre-pay for their wireless data plans (no contract required).
But Wait, There’s More…
Both the DataPlus and DataPro plans also include free unlimited access to any of AT&T’s more than 20,000 Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S. Current AT&T voice and texting plans are unchanged. AT&T also promises that better usage reporting tools will be available and that users will receive notification when they are nearing their monthly limit so they can either throttle back their usage or know that an additional charge will occur. Current subscribers can remain on their legacy unlimited plan for $30 per month, but they will not have the option to purchase the new tethering option.
All smartphone customers (including iPhone customers) who select the DataPro plan will also have the option to add tethering for an additional $20 per month. If you are wondering what this is, tethering allows you to use your 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.
As far as I’m concerned, charging for tethering is BOGUS! It’s only available to non-unlimited users so AT&T doesn’t really have to worry about people abusing this as their home internet solution. Tethering should be absolutely free! AT&T will easily make money on this if people go over their allotted bandwidth (and I’m sure they will), so there is really no reason they should be charging extra money for this feature.
When I purchase my forthcoming 4th gen iPhone I’ll be electing the $25 plan (since I don’t currently have a data plan w/ AT&T), while I hate having usage restrictions, I am happy that I’ll be saving $5 a month over what I thought I’d have to pay. The access to the Wi-Fi Hot Spots is also a really nice plus. I guess only time will tell if the 2GB limit will really cost me more in the end.