AT&T this evening announced that on June 7 it will be replacing the existing smartphone data plans (including iPhone and iPad plans) with new, metered data plans. The company also announced its first tethering support for iPhone.
The company previously has offered unlimited data on smartphone, iPhone, and iPad for $30/month, with a voice plan required on smartphone and iPhone. Today, the company announced that it is removing all unlimited data plans, and replacing them with 200 MB and 2 GB data tiers.
Called the $15 DataPlus and $25 DataPro, respectively, the new plans are both cheaper than previous offerings, and give smartphone customers choice over how much data they use. AT&T argues that for most customers, this is a significant price cut, considering that the average iPhone user consumes less than 200 MB per month of data.
However, for the tech savvy, these changes represent a dramatic rate increase. Overages start at $15 for the DataPlus tier, and fall to $10 per gigabyte on the DataPro tier. AT&T claims that less than two percent of customers exceed 2 GB of data usage on their smartphones. Also, AT&T will offer free Wi-Fi access to their hotspot network on both smartphone data plans.
AT&T also justifies the changes by saying that it will open the door to enabling tethering on iPhone, with the release of iPhone OS 4. However, users will be required to pay a $20/month tethering fee to use the service on the device. Also, tethering will not be available to DataPlus customers, you will have to upgrade to DataPro to enable tethering. AT&T did not mention other tethering-capable phones such as the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus in their press release. It is likely however that similar software updates will be needed to enable these features on Palm devices.
iPad users will also no longer have an unlimited data plan. Which, is compounded by having a shortage of iPad 3G devices. Customers now only have until June 7 to grandfather into the $30 unlimited plan tiers, including on iPad 3G models.
Users on the new DataPlus and DataPro tiers will receive free text messages notifications at 65, 90, and 100 percent of their quotas, and will be able to monitor data usage using AT&T’s myWireless iPhone app.
The effective date of these changes is also of note, as it is the same day Apple will introduce new products at its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). This includes a groundswell of reports that Verizon will begin selling an iPhone, as well as the potential inclusion of LTE in the iPhone product line.