AT&T Kills “Unlimited” Data Plans

AT&T will move its data plans to a metered model starting next Monday. You’ll pay $15 for 200MB of data per month, then pay for additional $15 blocks from there, based on how much data you use. Crave’s Matt Hickey has more:

…unlimited (data) plans, like many other broadband plans, had murky, inscrutable limits. There are stories of people being charged for going over a certain amount of data without knowing what that limit was, which doesn’t make the “unlimited” plans unlimited. To curb this, the just-announced plans give a new declared limit on how much data one gets for the money, fairly inexpensive options for those who go over, and tools for keeping tabs on data usage.

The pair of plans work with any smartphone that AT&T sells, including the iPhone. The low-end plan, DataPlus, includes 200MB of data for $15 a month. If the 200MB limit is exceeded, another 200MB block is added on for $15. This continues for as much data as is used.

The high-end plan, DataPro, includes 2GB of data–10 times more than DataPlus–for $25. When the 2GB threshold is reached, another 1GB can be tacked on for $10. Each 1GB after that is $10, as much as is used. That’s far better than the old overage rate of $100 per GB, or 10 cents per MB.

New iPad customers, who buy an iPad 3G starting Monday, can get the same $25 per month 2GB plan as iPhone users. Unlike iPhone users, iPad customers will still prepay for their wireless data plan with no contract. 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 2GB of data.

AT&T said it’s trying to avoid surprises on people’s bill.

AT&T’s iPad plan changed about a month after the iPad came out–that’s gotta be some kind of record.

For low-bandwidth users, it sounds like AT&T’s streamlining might offer a small discount. I’m not sure how happy high-bandwidth users will be about this.

The other interesting point about AT&T’s new metered data plans is that they represent a trend. Comcast and other ISPs started it. Now AT&T is onto it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Verizon and other big providers followed suite. It looks like unmetered (or “unlimited”) data plans will be the exception, not the rule, in the near future.

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Written by Drea Knufken

Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.