AT&T Kills $5 Incentive for Data Cap, Adds Data

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The days when AT&T customers could save $5 per month by giving up their unlimited data plans will soon be over.

On Sunday, January 22, AT&T will eliminate its $25 per month, 2 GB data plan for new subscribers, replacing it with a $30 per month, 3 GB plan. Existing customers will be able to keep their old plans, or switch to the new one. Subscribers with unlimited data can also keep their plans, but AT&T now throttles speeds for excessive use (roughly 2 GB per month, according to unofficial reports from users).

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AT&T, of course, is pitching the new plan as “a great value,” which is true if you’re using more than 2 GB of data per month. Under the old $25 plan, AT&T would charge an overage fee of $10 per GB, so the new $30, 3 GB plan would save you $5 per month.

But most people don’t come close to that level of use. Back in June 2010, when AT&T switched to limited data plans, the carrier cheerily noted that only 2% of customers use more than 2 GB per month. Unless the percentage has drastically increased since then, AT&T is squeezing an extra $5 per month out of customers who will never use the extra data.

That’s not the only change AT&T is making. The carrier is also eliminating its $15 per month, 200 MB package in favor of one that provides 300 MB for $20 per month. Data plans with tethering will jump from $45 for 4 GB per month to $50 for 5 GB per month. Tablet data plans will come in flavors of $15 for 250 MB, 3 GB for $30, or 5 GB for $50.

Give AT&T some credit: Its $30 per month plan provides an extra 1 GB of data over Verizon Wireless, which moved to tiered data plans last July but provided no incentive for customers to switch. It’s a shame to see AT&T remove its incentive as well, relying instead on throttling to make its unlimited plans less valuable.

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