Beginning this Sunday, January 22, AT&T will begin offering new data plans to its US smartphone and tablet customers, its first change to the plans since June 2010.

The new plans aren't designed to save money for existing smartphone customers: the previous entry-level Data Plus plan, which offered customers 200MB of data a month for $15, has been replaced by a Data Plus plan that offers 300MB for $20, a $5 increase for just a 100MB increase. The hike is less ostentatious for the middle and top tiers: the DataPro 2GB ($25) and DataPro 4GB ($45) plans have been replaced by DataPro 3GB and DataPro 5GB plans that run $30 and $50, respectively, which is in line with the company's $10/GB overage charges. As with before, tethering and mobile hotspot capabilities are only available for the top tier (5GB) plan.

The story is similar for tablet users: there are 3GB and 5GB Data Connect plans available for $30 and $50, while the price and data cap remain the same for the $14.99 250MB plan.

Current AT&T customers can elect to stay with their current plans, which was the case when AT&T stopped offering unlimited data plans to new customers, but new subscribers will only be able to choose from among the new plans. For current customers, the new plans make sense only for 2GB and 4GB subscribers who regularly go over their caps - an extra GB for $5 is more attractive than an extra GB for $10. Otherwise, I'd recommend sticking with what you've got.


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  • Kepe - Saturday, January 21, 2012 - link

    I meant 0.089 USD of course. 0.089 cents would be ridiculously cheap.
  • Targon - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - link

    What is the population density in Kansas, or West Virginia? Anyone can "average" the population density, knowing that you have large cities like New York, but you also have tiny places with a population of 23 people that covers 10 miles. If you provide service in small places like that, you may not have a single customer that lives there, but service is being offered so those who travel can get service there.

    Then, you have the cost to extend service TO those "unprofitable" areas, and that is where the costs come from. is a HUGE state, and you will have both high population density areas AND ultra-low population density areas. Can you REALLY say with this in mind that just having a decent population density overall will properly compensate for those rural areas?
  • djc208 - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    I still don't get the limitations on tethering and hot spots with these type of plans? If I have "unlimited" data then I can see carriers wanting to restrict how you can use that data. But if I paid for a specific amount of data there should be no limits on how/where/when I use it. I paid for it, I have to pay more if I exceed my limit, you'd think they would be encouraging people to use more data.

    Worst part is most people who are the heaviest data users are probably going to be savy enough to root their device and bypass the carrier restrictions on it anyway.
  • bmgoodman - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    So look what AT&T has now accomplished:

    Originally, they offered unlimited data for $30 a month. Then they put on data caps and said, "we're saving you money! Look, now you can get 2 GB, which is more than you even need, but you SAVE $5! And you very light users can now get your data for just $15!" Now, 18 months later, it's back to $30 a month for 3 GB. And $20 for everyone else. It's just a money grab. (I understand that this affects only new plans.) Somebody has to pay for the $Billions that AT&T threw away attempting to swallow TMobile!

    While I'm on my soapbox, I frankly think it should be illegal for AT&T to force you to have a data plan just because you connect a smart phone to their network. I should be able to have them block all data to/from my smartphone and use only wifi, where available.

    Maybe that could be a great Android app? Something that makes the phone look to AT&T like an old Nokia "dumb" phone (and puts NO data onto the cellular network) and works like a smartphone on wifi.... Just a thought, even if not a good one. ;)
  • Willhouse - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    I agree on the wifi-only phone. I've resisted and persuaded my wife not to buy a smartphone because there's no low usage plan that is reasonably priced ($20/month is too high). Also, my wife is resistant to switching to any carrier other than Verizon, so that doesn't help.

    I have internet at home and work; I can live without it traveling between the two. If I'm out with the kids, I don't have time to utilize data on my cell phone. It would be neat to have a more fully functioning phone, and there are some situation where having access to the internet while out would be useful, but those instances aren't frequent enough to pay the (what I consider) high prices.
  • DanNeely - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Most of the $15/20/mo "data plan" is actually the higher device subsidy for a smart phone vs a much cheaper feature phone. Whether you pay the extra several hundred bucks up front or amortized over the lift of the contract the total additional price would end up being about the same.

    If it's just a matter of principle that has you balking at paying monthly; ATTs still apparently not forcing people who buy a used smartphone and move their sim into it to buy a data plan.
  • rdes - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    This is actually incorrect, I resisted going to a smart phone for a long time, we had unlimited data on our family talk plan for all (non-smart) phones on the plan for like $25 a month (not per phone) and that was great. I upgraded to the Samsung Blackjack (Windows Mobile) years ago and at the time it was a grey area phone, I'm not sure if I was supposed to have a separate data plan for the phone or not, but I never got one, and it was never forced on me. 2 years later I upgraded to another Samsung phone (eclipse, eternity... e... something), this one a touch screen, running one of Samsung's proprietary OSs (not considered a 'smart' phone) and continued to run under the unlimited data plan that covered all non smart phones on our family talk plan for $25. One day (a year and a half or so later) I wanted to test something using my old phone, so I swapped the sim card back did a couple things, and within a matter of a couple hours or so I received a text from AT&T saying that my data plan was insufficient for the phone I was using, and I would automatically be 'upgraded' to the midrange smartphone plan. So buying a used or new no-contract phone does not prevent you from paying the data plan, even if they have no money loss to make up.
  • Ronakbhai - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    I was just thinking the same thing. The truth about the "we're saving you money" comes out now. And unfortunately, this is probably not the end. They probably originally intended for most users to spend $50 a month on just data, so they set a 4 year goal on achieving that, starting with "we're saving you money".
  • Lonyo - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    So, 3GB for $30, or 5GB for $50.
    And $10/GB if you go over your cap...

    Am I correct?

    So no discounts at all for buying plans, the only incentive you get is tethering, which is only available on the top tier plan.

    Most of the time when you move up a plan of any sort, you get more per dollar, rather than the same per dollar.
    $10/GB for each of these plans is dumb.
  • peldor - Thursday, January 19, 2012 - link

    It makes a lot more sense if you read it as "AT&T's new master plan" rather than just a "new data plan".

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