AT&T rework data plans, kill “unlimited” iPad tariff & promise iPhone OS 4 tethering support

Jun 2, 2010
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AT&T have announced sweeping changes to their mobile data plans, billed by the company as a way to make selecting a plan more straightforward to consumers, but also killing off "unlimited" packages.  The carrier has also confirmed that it will be offering iPhone tethering, which will arrive alongside the Apple iPhone OS 4 update later this year, and that its "unlimited" iPad data plan will no longer be available for new users.  Full details of all the packages after the cut.

Two new plans form the basis of AT&T's data offerings: DataPlus will give 200MB for $15 per month, while DataPro will give 2GB for $25.  AT&T reckon 98-percent of users don't manage to get through a full 2GB in a month, but overage fees are slightly more affordable anyway: $15 per 200MB extra on DataPlus, or $10 per 1GB extra on DataPro.  Both include WiFi access from the carrier's 20,000 hotspots.  Subscribers will apparently be free to switch between the two packages on a month to month basis, including retroactively opting for a cheaper/more expensive package if the AT&T data calculator suggests they'd have been better off on that plan.

As for tethering, that will be a $20 add-on to the DataPro plan, though subscribers won't get any more included data for their money, only the opportunity to share it between phone and whatever notebook, netbook or other device they might be using.  New iPad owners, meanwhile, won't have the option to sign up to the $29.99 "unlimited" data plan, just the same $25 2GB plan; existing subscribers can keep their current unlimited tariff, but it's unclear if they'll be able to switch between it and the cheaper data plan on a month by month basis.

AT&T won't be forcing anyone to change to the new plans, though current subscribers can do so without extending their contract, and if you're worried about not knowing when you're reaching your data limits they'll be sending out warning messages should that happen.  Subscribers will get text messages when they're at 65-, 90- and 100-percent of their data limit, as well as emails if AT&T have your address.  The new plans and tethering support - aside from for iPhone - will be available from June 7th 2010.

Press Release:

Make Mobile Internet More Affordable to More People

Dallas, Texas, June 02, 2010

AT&T*, the U.S. smartphone leader, today introduced new wireless data plans that make it more affordable for more people to enjoy the benefits of the mobile Internet. Customers can pick the new data plan that best meets their needs – either a $15 per month entry plan or a $25 per month plan with 10 times more data. Current smartphone customers are not required to switch to the new plans, but can choose to do so without a contract extension.

“AT&T helps mobilize everything on the Internet – your favorite web sites, TV shows, music, games and social networks. Virtually everything previously done while sitting at a computer can now be done on the go,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “To give more people the opportunity to experience these benefits, we’re breaking free from the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ pricing model and making the mobile Internet more affordable to a greater number of people.”

Each plan includes unlimited access at no additional charge to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S. Customers can also use unlimited Wi-Fi at home, in the office or elsewhere if available. AT&T will also help customers manage their wireless data usage by sending free text messages after customers reach different usage intervals and by providing online tools, including a smartphone app that shows monthly usage information.

The new wireless data plans – including a new tethering option – will be available beginning June 7. Current AT&T voice and texting plans are unchanged.

More Choice

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.

Wi-Fi at 20,000 AT&T Hot Spots

The vast majority of smartphones that AT&T offers have built-in Wi-Fi, which lets the devices automatically switch from the wireless network to a Wi-Fi hotspot without prompting, making Wi-Fi even more convenient and easy to use. This enables customers to use Wi-Fi in the home, office and at public locations where available. Wi-Fi will generally provide consistently fast speeds and does not count against a customer’s monthly data plan usage total. In addition, virtually all AT&T smartphone customers have access at no additional charge to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S. Customers can get more information on how to use Wi-Fi and find the location of AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots at www.att.com/wifiaccess.

Monitoring and Managing Usage

To help customers easily check their data usage, AT&T has made the information readily available in a number of ways***:

Customer Text Notifications On Data Usage. When customers begin to approach their monthly usage limit, AT&T will send three text notifications – after they reach 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of the threshold. Customers will also be sent emails if AT&T has their email address.
Data Usage Monitoring. Additionally, customers with iPhones and other select devices can use the free AT&T myWireless application to check data usage. The application is available for download in several smartphone app stores. Also, AT&T customers can call *DATA# from their wireless phone to check their data usage for the current billing period. They receive a free text message with their usage information. Customers can also go online to www.att.com/wireless to see all of their usage information, past and present.
Data Calculator. The easy-to-use online data calculator enables customers to estimate their mobile data usage and get a better sense for which data plan is right for them. It’s located at www.att.com/datacalculator.
Customers can learn more about the new plans online at www.att.com/dataplans, by contacting AT&T customer service at 1-800-331-0500, or by visiting an AT&T retail store.

AT&T expects these new data plans to have minimal revenue impact this year and to not affect previous guidance for 2010.

* AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

** Usage examples are estimates. Individual results will vary based upon customer’s Internet usage patterns.

*** Customers will see their usage reflected in their tools generally within 15 hours or less of actual data usage.

Largest Wi-Fi network claim based on non-municipal company and owned and operated hotspots. An 802.11 b/g enabled device required.


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