It seems the whole of the Internet was up in arms this morning after AT&T announced new data plans for smartphone users. As expected, the iPhone contingent screamed bloody murder, so we did a quick polling in the office and on Twitter to see if the whiny babies had reason to scream. With a small sampling of 11 folks, it’s hard to say if the screams were justified as only one user was even remotely close to reaching 2GB worth of data usage. I have no personal qualms with the new data plan, but if you’re new a customer then you’re SOL. And iPad users are screwed even more so.
(More on Techland: AT&T Ditches Unlimited Data Plan, Tethering On The Way)
Before we get into the new plans it should be noted that existing AT&T customers with a smartphone and the unlimited data plan will not be forced to switch into one of the new plans unless they willingly opt into it. However, if you choose to add an additional line of service, that new device will fall under the new pricing plans. If you opt out of the unlimited plan to a new one, you can’t go back. And those of you looking to upgrade from a BlackBerry or previous gen iPhone can grandfather the unlimited data plan to the new iPhone when it becomes available. Also, you can renew your contract under the old terms without opting into a new plan.
Let’s start with the basic data plans.
Under the old unlimited plan you got true unlimited data for $30 on the iPhone and iPad.
The DataPro Plan is only $25/month but you’re only getting 2GB worth of data a month. Additional buckets of data are available for $10 per 1GB.
The DataPlus Plan offers 200MB of data for $15/month. An additional bucket of 200MB of data can be purchased for $15.
New iPad owners (presumably those that opt in starting the 7th) won’t be privy to the unlimited data plan. The only way to keep the unlimited data plan of $30/month is to let it auto-renew going forward. Didn’t Jobs and AT&T say the unlimited data plan was set it stone? I don’t have an iPad anymore and this pisses me the frak off. The beauty of the whole frakkin thing was the ability to switch on 3G service whenever the frak I wanted. Not anymore!
But wait. There’s more! AT&T is finally going to allow you to tether your iPhone for an extra $20/month, if you’re a DataPro customer. If you’re on the unlimited plan, which AT&T will not force you to switch from then you must switch to the DataPro plan to enable tethering on your device.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a second. AT&T wants to charge an extra $20/month for the ability to tether? Yes, they do!
The price breakdown per megabyte is absurd but that’s beside the point, IMO. With iPhone OS 4 coming sometime this month or next and background apps and Skype over 3G and Netflix (on the iPad for now) and Slingplayer on our devices, we’re all screwed if we’re not already locked into AT&T under the unlimited data plan. This is complete and utter bullshit.
Why is AT&T rolling this out next Monday? Well, the money is on Steve Jobs announcing the 4th generation iPhone during his WWDC keynote address. Press invites haven’t been sent out yet, so we’re still in the dark. AT&T’s network has been strained by heavy data users resulting in dropped calls and horrendous service all around with iPhone users leading the charge. AT&T is likely trying to curb our appetite for data with these new plans. Don’t be surprised to see other carriers follow suit. All those Android devices are data hungry too. If RIM ever decides to pull their heads out of the ass and release a webKit browser, you better believe data usage from BlackBerry owners will skyrocket, too.