Thursday, June 03, 2010

AT&T's New Data Plan Limits--Much Ado About Nothing?

I've been a happy iPhone user since I took the plunge right before Christmas of '08. Sure, there have been a few dropped calls here and there, and I had to learn how to keep the battery from draining too quickly (turn off location services, notifications, etc.), but otherwise, it's been nothing but positive. So I was concerned when the story came out this week that AT&T is planning to do away with unlimited data plans. But I had to know more--would this even affect me? Let's see:
AT&T will now offer a lower-end data plan, called DataPlus, for $15 per month. Users on this plan get 200MB to use for one month, and those that go over will be given an additional 200MB for another $15. According to AT&T's analysis, 65 percent of its smartphone customers use less than 200MB on average. Checking around the Orbiting HQ, all but one of us with an iPhone on AT&T fall into this category.

The new high-end plan, called DataPro, gets you 2GB of data use for $25 per month. If you go over 2GB, you'll pay $10 for each 1GB increment. For example, if you use 3.5GB, you'll pay $25 + 10 + 10, or $45 for the month. AT&T is not offering an unlimited data tier at any price. The company says that 98 percent of its customers use less than 2GB of data, so among these two plans, all but the heaviest data users should theoretically save on their monthly bill...
Hmm. I have no idea how much data i use, so I checked the settings on my phone. It said I'd used 1.5 GB. And when had I last reset my statistics? Umm...never. That means I'd used 1.5 GB since I'd bought the phone, a year and a half ago. So I'm good with the $25 plan. I later went to AT&T's website and checked my account for more specific usage; had I gone over 200MB in a month? Yup, most recently in February and December, the two months where I've done the most traveling.

So it appears that, not only will I not be affected by this new practice, but I could actually save money with it. Some recent iPad buyers who depend on the 3G network instead of wi-fi will undoubtedly be upset, as will those who are the true data hogs on the network. (UPDATE: According to another article on the subject, the people most likely to be affected by the new plans are "the 3 percent of customers who AT&T says are using 40 percent of the network assets," along with those who are using a cellphone as a modem.

So tell me, fellow iPhone users--will this affect you at all? And if you just got an iPad, are you disappointed? Fire away in the comments (you can wait until you find wi-fi if you want).

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