AT&T to roll out metered data plans, tethering on June 7

By on June 2, 2010, 1:23 PM
AT&T has announced sweeping changes to its mobile data plans that will introduce tiered pricing and mark the end of unlimited transfers. Starting on June 7 the carrier will replace its $30 unlimited data package with three new bandwidth-restricted plans called DataPlus, DataPro, and Tethering.

DataPlus will cost $15 a month and offer up to 200MB of data transfer, which AT&T says is enough to send or receive 1,000 emails without attachments, 150 emails with attachments, view 400 sites, post 50 photos to social media sites, and watch 20 minutes of streaming video. DataPro is the new top plan and bumps the bandwidth cap to 2GB of data transfers per month.

The light at the end of this dark and musty tunnel is the addition of tethering, which customers have long begged for. Tethering will cost an extra $20 per month and will be restricted to the DataPro plan. An extra $20 per month seems reasonable for tethering (especially considering the once rumored $55 and $70 fees), but it seems somewhat useless with a 2GB roof.

AT&T notes that most smartphones have Wi-Fi connectivity, and the carrier provides free access to more than 20,000 hotspots in the US. To prevent overages, AT&T will send text messages to warn customers of their usage. One message will be sent at 65%, another at 90%, and then a final note at 100%. Customers who go over will be charged $10 for an additional 1GB.

It's worth noting that folks who currently have unlimited data plans will not be forced into this new model at least not right away. We assume you'll be able to keep the unlimited plan until your contract expires, at which point you'll likely have to make the switch. We also assume that some "high usage" devices (like the iPad) might be stuck with the $25 DataPro plan, but that's not official.

User Comments: 10

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Docnoq said:

Wow. Well, I guess AT&T is making my decision to switch easier for me. My contract ends this month, and I have been comparing prices across AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Seems it will just be compared between Verizon and Sprint now.

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Both Verizon and Sprint have also expressed an interest in switching to tiered pricing.

Docnoq said:

Perhaps I will look into Boost Mobile, Straight Talk, etc. They are cheaper anyhow :-P

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You want cheap? Prepaid phones. Mine runs me .05 cents a minute, no contract. No, I don't get any bells and whistles with it, but that's what I have a PC for.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

No surprise, considering they've been talking about it for some time. Just a shame that it'll cost a lot more to experience the iphone or smartphones in general. At least they'll be texting you warnings when you get close to your limit as I'm sure they will be a lot of users reaching it.

@TomSEA You can bring your own phone to prepaid plans or at least that's what I did.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm just waiting for an FTC investigation regarding data fees to kick in - enough people get zinged with massive overage costs and complaints pile up, and I'm sure it'll happen...

It's a little too convenient, that the wireless providers push the smartphones, iPads, mobile broadband, and streaming multimedia services, then once that whole sector becomes the big area of growth, they slam down the locks on the data usage and get ready to reap in the overage fees... Seriously, could they be a little more transparent? It's like the drug pusher, giving you the first taste for free to get you hooked. And, if you listen to outfits like AT&T, they whine about how the "smartphones are using up all our bandwidth waaaaaaah" and other ridiculous excuses... If they were so worried about it, then they would have stuck to just actual phones, rather than pushing the smartphones so hard.

howzz1854 said:

the wireless providers are turning into the "old" GM. fat, lazy, expensive, and unproductive. their model? sit on their arses for as long as they can and rake in as much profit as possible without doing anything. just watch, they'll get theirs eventually. this type of business model will not survive for long.

a real good business model is constantly evolving, none stop R&D, rebuilding your infrastructure constantly, bringing the most to your customers with the least amount of cost, pass-on as little cost to your customers as possible. pretty much all the things that google has done in the past decade. ATT seems to have done the totally opposite.

i am hanging onto the last thread of my iphone. as work prospect still looking bleak, that $75 monthly plan with unregulated, charge all they want, extra fees and overages (which turns out to be $85~$90/month) is starting to look like a good piece of hardware to get rid of. keep it up ATT, keep F@#$ up your customers.

PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

I was really upset when I got my iPhone with AT&T and found out there's a mandatory $30 data plan with the phone. The option to switch to a $15 plan is good news to me, as most of my data for this phone is through wifi.

I'd be curious to see if jailbroken phones can use tethering on the $15/month plan.

cyrusjumpjet cyrusjumpjet said:

I just bought a Blackberry from them with their $30/month data plan. I like my unlimited, thank you very much, and I won't be happy if I have to switch to the tiered pricing right away.

tengeta tengeta said:

It looks nice now, but if you somehow convince yourself those rates aren't going to raise... where have you been the past decade?

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