This week, AT&T announced that it was eliminating unlimited 3G data usage plans. Existing iPhone users who currently pay $30 monthly for unlimited 3G will be able to continue to do so. New users who sign up before June 7, 2010 will also be grandfathered into the unlimited plan.
After June 7, AT&T 3G subscribers will no longer have an unlimited option. A new $15 plan with 200 MB will be available, along with a $25 plan that caps out at 2 GB monthly. The 2 GB plan has a $10 charge for each additional GB that exceeds the plan.
The sudden change appears to be linked to the June 7th Apple WWDC announcement of the upcoming 4th generation iPhone. Some in the tech industry have been up in arms about the sudden change. Others have taken a more measured response. They have been citing how the other wireless carriers are also placing bandwidth caps of their own. I believe that in the end, none of the major carriers will offer an unlimited wireless data plan.
I’ll state my opinion on AT&T’s announcement: I personally do not care.
I don’t use very much 3G data, and I could actually benefit from the cheaper $15 plan that is half the cost of the $30 unlimited plan that I pay for today. In order to be certain, I checked my monthly data usage on AT&T’s website tonight. It turns out that the most wireless data I have used in a single month is 133 MB. That is all!
I’m obviously not a heavy user. I rarely stream video over 3G, or do other data-intensive tasks. AT&T says that 98% of their users use less than 2 GB of data per month. That works for me! I couldn’t consume 2 GB on my phone if I tried.
All of the above said, I concede that iPad 3G owners will certainly be the most likely to feel the pinch of the new bandwidth restrictions. I wrote this article with the iPhone user in mind.