Why AT&T’s new data plans suck

By now you must have heard about AT&T’s new data plan pricing: Instead of paying $30 for unlimited data, you can pay:

  • $15 per month for 200MB or
  • $25 per month for 2GB

AT&T claims that 95% (but I can’t find the source) of their data users use less than 2 GB anyway, so most people will see savings! Sounds like a good deal, right?

Wrong. The problem with the new data plans is that, although most users will be fine with 2 GB a month today, they won’t be ok with it tomorrow. This explains the timing of the announcement: make it seem like they are loweing the prices, fully knowing that data intensive phones are right around the corner. Next week Apple is expected to release iPhone OS 4.0, which supports background services. Yes, people will be using Skype and Pandora for hours on their phone. And they are also expected to release a new iPhone model that will likely support video conferencing. These are data intensive applications that will eat through 2 GB very quickly. We should expect other smartphones to similarly steer toward more data intensive applications. It’s a ripoff: customers will be paying over $25 or will have to start carefully watching their habits.

And don’t get me started on that $20 charge to allow tethering (without providing any additional data)…

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