AT&T Switching from Unlimited 3G Data to Tiered Pricing

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The honeymoon is over, AT&T has announced that starting June 7th, 2010. They will no longer provide unlimited data to newIphone 4 iPhone users, current users will be grandfathered into their current unlimited plans but will have the option to switch to the new plans. The new plans are outlined below.

DataPlus – 200 MB of data for $15 per month

  • Designed for people who primarily surf the Web, send email, and use social networking apps.
  • On average, 65% of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200 MB per month
  • If you use more than 200 MB, you'll receive an additional 200 MB of data usage for $15, replenished as often as necessary during the billing cycle.

DataPro – 2 GB of data for $25 per month

  • Designed for people who regularly download or stream music and video, or use other high bandwidth applications
  • 98% of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB in a month on average
  • If you exceed 2 GB, you'll get an additional 1 GB of data for only $10. Each time an additional 1 GB is used up during a cycle, you will automatically receive another 1 GB at the same low price.

To soften the blow for heavy users, AT&T will over unlimited use of WIFI at its more than 20,000 hotspots around the country.

Smartphone customers who choose the DataPro plan can add tethering for an additional $20 per month. With tethering, you can use your smartphone as a modem to provide a broadband connection for laptop computers, netbooks, or other computing devices. Note that any data you use on your laptop will go towards your monthly limit.

To see how this specifically applies to me and my wife, I looked at our bills for the last 6 months and I was shocked to see that I routinely used over a gigabyte of data each month while my wife usually comes in under 100mb, she came close to a gigabyte only once and mostly because of our 2 year old son watching videos.

The free WIFI is an attractive alternative but with the iPhone barely able to get me through a busy workday on a full charge, do I really want to turn on the WIFI to add more battery drain?

Why the big gap between data plans? After talking to some close friends that use iPhones; if there was a middle ground, say 500mb or a gigabyte most them would fit nicely in that slot.

As someone who is looking into iPhone development, I now have to consider how my app accesses the internet with users having a limit on the amount of data they can use. Will people buy less apps or update them less frequently? In their statement AT&T said previous users would be grandfathered into the new plan, what happens when I upgrade to the iPhone 4G? Will I still be able to keep my unlimited data plan?