AT&T to Get Rid of Unlimited Data Plans in Anticipation of New iPhone

We can't say we didn't see this one coming from a mile away. AT&T's just announced that its iPhone and iPad data plans -- a one-option of unlimited data now set at $30 a month -- is being replaced by more specific plans on Monday, June 7 in preparation of the madness the new iPhone 4 announcement will produce.

In its place, we'll now have two new iPhone data plans and two for the iPad, both dubbed "DataPlus" and "DataPro." They haven't mentioned when exactly they'll do away with unlimited data plans entirely, but it's definitely in the works.

Neither plan offers unlimited downloads or data access, but then again, neither is over $25 a month. Not sure if that will turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing.

The DataPlus plan will cost $15 a month, and will allow for 200MB of use, while the DataPro will cost $25 a month, and allow for 2GB. According to their press release, AT&T mentions that 65% of their customers use less than 200MB per month, making users think that this change will appeal to the masses and offer a substantial "discount." There's always fine print, though.

If you exceed the allotted 200MB on this plan, AT&T will serve you with a $15 fine per 200MB overages, which could make data-downloading sprees really expensive.

Since by AT&T's math, only 2% of their customers go through 2GB of data a month, if you have the DataPro plan and happen to go over the allotted 2GB, AT&T will grant you a solid and only charge $10 per extra 1GB of data downloaded.

All of this actually sounds like it might be saving customers money, but here's where these new plans get tricky --and really expensive. If you'd like to "tether" (in layman's terms, use your device as a modem through Bluetooth, or connect it to your laptop, which most users do), you need a plan for that, too. First off, you need to have the DataPro plan, then you can add the tethering feature for an additional $20 a month, making the data total $45 a month. If you add tethering in, you'll also be sharing that 2GB between your phone and your computer, making the limit much easier to cross.

Existing iPad customers still have an option --but we're not sure 'til when. You're free to stick to your current unlimited data plan, but AT&T hopes that most will change to the aforementioned plans to save $5 and apply a limit to data downloads. All of these new data plans also come with unlimited access to any of the company's 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, so a standard cell data network isn't always going to be necessary.

But of course all of this is in addition to the standard monthly cell phone and texting plans you'll need. This sounds like trouble.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Christine Borges