Dallas - AT&T will offer new
smartphone subscribers less expensive data plans to replace its current
$29.99/month unlimited-data plan, which will no longer be offered.
The changes go into effect on June
7, the same day that Apple is expected to announce its next generation iPhone
during its developers' conference.
AT&T described the change as a
way to make smartphones more affordable to consumers, but analysts also see it
as a way for AT&T to control data usage by a small percentage of
subscribers - mainly iPhone subscribers -- who use a disproportionate amount of
data traffic and slow data service for other users.
Current AT&T voice and texting
plans are unchanged
"To give more people the opportunity
to experience [data-service benefits]," said Ralph de la Vega, president/CEO of
AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, " we're breaking free from the
traditional â€˜one-size-fits-all' pricing model and making the mobile Internet
more affordable to a greater number of people."
Under AT&T's new two-tier data-plan
strategy, a $15/month DataPlus option will provide 200MB of data .Customers who
exceed 200MB/month will get an additional 200MB for $15 for use during the
month. The DataPlus plan is targeted to people who surf the web, send email and
use social networking applications, and it provides enough data to send and
receive 1,000 emails without attachments, send and receive 150 emails with
attachments, view 400 Web pages, post 50 photos on social media sites, and
watch 20 minutes of streaming video.
Currently, 65 percent of AT&T smartphone
customers use less than 200MB of data per month on average, the carrier said.
The $25/month DataPro plan provides 2GB of
data, and users exceeding that amount will get an additional 1GB of data at $10
for use during the month. The plan allows for 10,000 emails with no
attachments, 1,500 emails with attachments, 4,000 Web pages, posting of 500
photos to social media sites, and viewing of 200 minutes of streaming video,
Currently, 98 percent of AT&T's smartphone
users use less than 2GB of data per month on average, the company said.
Under both plans, AT&T will send a text notification after
a subscriber reaches 65 percent, 90
percent and 100 percent of a plan's data limit. AT&T will also send email
alerts to a user's email address.
Both plans include unlimited WiFi access
through AT&T's 20,000 hot spots. The "vast majority " of AT&T
smartphones feature WiFi, the company added.
Consumers who choose the top plan also get a $20/month option to tether
their smartphone to a portable computer for use as a wireless modem. Tethering
for iPhones will be available when Apple releases iPhone OS 4 during the
Current smartphone customers with the tethering option are
paying $30/month for an unlimited data plan plus $30/month for the tethering
who buy new iPads will get one data option, the $25/month 2GB plan, to replace
the current $29.99 unlimited plan. iPad customers will continue to pre-pay for
their wireless data plan with no contract requirement. Existing iPad customers
with the $29.99 plan will be able to switch.