AT&T abandons unlimited data plan

Ronny Kerr · June 2, 2010 · Short URL:

New lower-priced data plans offer tethering feature at the cost of bandwidth

iPhone tetheringAT&T announced on Wednesday that it will no longer be offering its unlimited data plan to new smartphone customers. Starting June 7, customers will have to choose between two new data plans.

The DataPlus plan provides for 200 MB of data at $15/month, but if the user exceeds the limit, they receive an additional 200 MB at another $15, just for that month's billing cycle. The DataPro plan provides 2 GB of data at $25/month and the user receives an additional 1 GB for $10 if the limit is passed.

65% of customers use less than 200 MB of data and 98% use less than 2 GB each month on average, according to AT&T's own figures.

Current customers are not required to switch to the new plans, but they'll miss out on one upcoming key feature if they don't: tethering.

Tethering lets users turn their mobile phone into a modem, supplying Internet access to an unconnected computer.

When tethering launches for iPhones this summer (with Apple's release of iPhone OS 4), users who want access to the feature will not only have to switch from their unlimited data plan to the DataPro plan, but they will also have to pay an extra $20 on top of the $25 for the plan. Furthermore, that fee won't provide for extra bandwidth use.

Voice and texting plans remain unchanged.

While AT&T is trying to color today's announcement as the introduction of cheaper alternatives for users, it is obvious that the company is trying to limit user data usage. As iPhone users are well-acquainted with poor data service on the AT&T network, maybe these new limitations will help alleviate those network strains.

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