Wednesday, 02 June 2010

I bought my iPad 3G just a month ago, and at the time I signed up for the AT&T Wireless unlimited data plan for $29.99 a month. I’m glad I did, and should point out to anyone on the 250MB plan who wants (or thinks they want) a truly unlimited plan, you have until June 6th to sign up for that plan. After that date, the unlimited data plan won’t be available anymore.

AT&T has announced they’re ending unlimited data plans pretty much across the board. The new plans will provide 250MB and 2GB of data each, with (fairly reasonable) overage charges. Current smartphone customers are not required to switch to the new plans, but can choose to do so without a contract extension.Before explaining the packages, I went to my iPad to see how much data I used during my first month with the iPad:

usage-ipad

I’m a pretty heavy user, with a chunk of my use at home, but plenty of data use on the road. So, maybe a 2GB account would work for me (at least most of the time). AT&T says only 2% of their smartphone users exceed 2GB per month. If I was working away from my home office even more, I think I’d likely hit the 2GB top end of the new account. And while I understand the logic around the per-month statistics for smartphones, the iPad really is a different type of device. So, I wonder what the iPad user monthly usage statistics are. What percentage went over 2GB in the first month the iPad with 3G was available? AT&T didn’t spell that out for us.

Luckily, I can retain my unlimited iPad data account if I want to. I just have to keep it auto-billing in order to keep it available, it sounds like. In the future if I find my usage consistently allows, I can choose to go for the 2GB capped account and save enough money for an expensive coffee.

Plan details from AT&T’s press release:

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.

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.

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

I guess the one thing that bothers me is that AT&T and Apple launched the iPad with an unlimited plan option. I am quite glad that existing iPad users can keep the plan they signed up for, but I think about future and new phone capabilities such as the likely video conferencing and streaming on new mobile devices that are set to be available this summer. I worry about plan limits which – in the future – could consistently result in overage charges once data usage organically increases with new hardware capabilities and demand.



Add/Read: Comments [1]
Apple | Mobile | Tech
Thursday, 10 June 2010 06:40:44 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
"AT&T says only 2% of their smartphone users exceed 2GB per month."

I doubt that both the intent to stop the unlimited plan and their internationally-infamous metropolitan "congestions" second that.

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