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The new AT&T plans provide large amounts of data to enable people to enjoy their favorite online activities:
* DataPlus. Provides 200 megabytes (MB) of data – for example, 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 – for just $15 per month.** This plan, which can save customers up to 50 percent off their wireless data charges, is designed for people who primarily like to surf the web, send email and use social networking apps. If customers exceed 200 MB in a monthly billing cycle, they will receive an additional 200 MB of data usage for $15 for use in the cycle. Currently, 65 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data per month on average.
* DataPro. Provides 2 gigabytes (GB) of data – for example, enough to 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 – for $25 per month.** Should a customer exceed 2 GB during a billing cycle, they will receive an additional 1 GB of data for $10 for use in the cycle. Currently, 98 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB of data a month on average.
* Tethering. Smartphone customers – including iPhone customers – who choose the DataPro plan have the option to add tethering for an additional $20 per month. Tethering lets customers use their 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.
With the new wireless data plans, pricing for a smartphone voice and data bundle now starts at just $54.99 per month for an individual plan, or $24.99 per month for an additional line on a FamilyTalk plan, $15 per month less than the price of the previous entry level bundle. For new iPad customers, the $25 per month 2 GB plan will replace the existing $29.99 unlimited plan. iPad customers will continue to pre-pay for their wireless data plan and no contract is required. Existing iPad customers who have the $29.99 per month unlimited plan can keep that plan or switch to the new $25 per month plan with 2 GB of data.
It's pretty hilarious how ironic this whole situation really is. With a title like that--"AT&T Announces New Lower-Priced Wireless Data Plans to Make Mobile Internet More Affordable to More People--you'd think that the general response would include elevated levels of enthusiasm and respect for AT&T. Not. Read the fine print of the article and you discover that no, AT&T is not completely destroying the data plans--according to them, only 2% of their users actually exceed 2GB/month, so that's little to worry about--but they are taking back their word on tethering.
Almost two years have passed since AT&T confirmed tethering for the iPhone, and hearing that you'll have to pay an additional $20/month for tethering without any additional data being added to your plan is the ultimate sucker punch. Not only is the $20/month fee an absolute sucker punch, but the fact that you can't have the unlimited data plan and tethering is like your best friend punching you, offering to help you up, and then punching you again as soon as you regain your composure. And then running away with your lunch money. We thought Yossarian had it bad? This is like a Catch-44.
The guys over at TUAW did manage to interview a member of AT&T's PR team to try and clear things up, but it looks like the answers only doused the raging inferno with jet fuel.
Why all the sudden raises in costs to consumers? Is it due to overtaxed infrastructure? "It's the opposite," said Bloom. "We're doing something [in introducing these plans] that isn't around at all. We're introducing a $15/month plan that will make smartphones available to whole new sets of consumers. It's much more affordable to them." Bloom explained that AT&T looked at typical data usage across the existing AT&T smartphone customer base. According to AT&T's research, about 98% of smartphone users consumed less than 2GB per month -- I did not get a separate statistic unfortunately for iPhone users. "We developed a plan that costs less than the $30 plan, where customers can use it comfortably with a fair and easy-to-predict structure if they go over their limits. I think there's a lot of value being added, consumers are getting what they need. For a vast majority of users they're getting that for less money per month." Bloom added that the AT&T infrastructure was not the driving force for the change, that the plans were developed according to historic usage data.
Assuming I am interpretting the article correctly, you can be grandfathered in to the $30/month unlimited plan, if you have already signed up for it before June 7th, but if you change to a newer plan--$15/month or $25/month--you can't return to the unlimited plan.
Not only does the principle seem to irritate everyone, especially concerning tethering, but AT&T taking back their initial promise to offer unlimited data on the iPad seems to be the other thing that is irking bloggers the most. Guess we'll see how AT&T's PR department handles the next week of outcry that is spreading across blogs like the plague.