New data prices for AT&T users

The company stops offering unlimited data for a set monthly price.

By Kim Peterson Jun 2, 2010 4:46PM
Credit: (© Manu Fernandez/AP)AT&T (T) is changing the pricing on data plans for the iPhone, the iPad, and other devices -- and some think that other wireless providers will follow suit.

Starting Monday, AT&T customers will no longer get unlimited Internet access for a set monthly price. Instead, they'ill pay either $15 a month for 200 megabytes of data or $25 a month for 2 gigabytes. Try to imagine 200 megabytes as the equivalent of about 400 photos, according to USA Today.

Customers can still go over that limit, they'll just pay more depending on how much data they use. The company says that 98% of customers use less than 2 GB. Previously, iPhone customers paid $30 a month for unlimited data.

So is this a good thing? AT&T seems to think that moving its data plan under the $30 mark will draw in more customers. But then you have people like Jeff Jarvis, who says that AT&T's service sucks and the company's response is to change its pricing so that people use the service less.

"That's cynical," wrote Jarvis, the creator of Entertainment Weekly. "It's evil."

But Matt Hickey at Cnet looks at the bright side: Most AT&T users will now pay less each month without seeing any change to their day-to-day usage, he writes. "For many iPhone users, saving $5 a month by not paying for data they don't use is a good thing."

This could mark the start of an industry-wide change when it comes to unlimited wireless data usage. Other providers have been a bit cagey about whether they will adopt similar plans, but why wouldn't they?

The chief executive of Verizon (VZ)'s wireless division said it would "make sense" to roll out similar pricing when he introduces the company's new 4G service, according to USA Today.

Our data consumption is sure to increase, particularly as streaming video and high-definition video become more prevalent. There may come a day when hitting 2GB a month isn't unusual at all.
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