As if you didn’t have enough to hate about using your iPhone on AT&T. Now there’s new smart phone rates to complain about; more reasons to despise and disparage. We love to bash AT&T, right? Are the new rates worth a look or worth complaints? Yes. And no.
Goodbye Unlimited Data (almost)
As of June 7th AT&T has new data plans for iPhone users. Why June 7th? Steve Jobs gives a keynote presentation to Apple developers at the WWDC. Why June 7th? Can you say, New iPhones?
All of a sudden, the cell phone company we love to hate has decided we’re using too much bandwidth on our unlimited data plans, so they’re putting data limits on our plans.
DataPlus – 200 megabytes of data for a mere $15 a month (in addition to your calling minutes). Go over the limit and it costs $15 for an additional 200 megs.
I had to check my iPhone’s data stats to date. In less than a year of using my 3GS, I’ve downloaded less than one gigabyte of data.
DataPro – 2 gigabytes for only $25 a month. After that, it’s only $10 per gigabyte of data. Based on my current usage, I would qualify for the DataPro plan and have data left over.
What’s to complain about?
Tethering – If you have a DataPro plan and want to tether your notebook computer, that will cost an extra $20 per month. That’s now $45 for 2 gigabytes of data. Not so good.
iPad 3G – Even iPad users will feel AT&T’s generosity—or wrath. That old $29.99 unlimited data plan that we’ve used for a month. It’s history.
iPad 3G users still have two options. $15 for 250 megabytes of data, which is 50 megabytes more than the DataPlus plan. And $25 for 2 gigabytes of data, the same as the DataPro plan.
Tiered Pricing, Bad Pricing
In most cases, for most users, the monthly rates will go down, and only the more hardcore users will feel the pain if their data downloads exceed 2 gigabytes per month.
Ready for it? Drum roll, please…
Data usage habits are about to change. So far, after using an iPhone for three years, what do we download that requires so much data (surprisingly less than expected)? Music. Apps. Web pages. Email. YouTube. Photos.
The biggest data hog of all is about to be unleashed to iPhone users. iChat for iPhone.
Most rumor mills expect Apple’s new iPhone to sport a front facing camera—perfect for doing Skype video calls, iChat video calls, and live streaming video person-to-person.
In other words, if iChat or Skype video and a front facing camera is in the new iPhone, we’ll use more bandwidth. Potentially, lots more bandwidth. More bandwidth means more money for AT&T because pricing is now tiered, not unlimited.
The Bottom Line
Use more. Pay more. That’s the new AT&T.
In a way, it’s good for some light data users. Lower rates. It’s good for AT&T because they can attract more customers with lower. It’s not so good for the rest of us because more customers come to an already congested network.
It’s also good for AT&T because video iChat might be a big deal that everyone wants. That will chew up more bandwidth but now customers pay for extra data.
It’s probably good for Verizon and Sprint and T-Mobile customers, too, as their cell phone carrier will have to scramble to match AT&T’s new lower rates.
Regardless of the tiered pricing structure, I have this sinking feeling that I’ll end up paying more money. Oh, and forget about watching live, streaming television on your iPhone or iPad except on WiFi—or some new Apple gadget that makes it happen (hint, wink, nod).