AT&T sparks user backlash by puling plug on unlimited data plans

invisibleSHIELD case for iPadHugo Miller and Olga Kharif report for Bloomberg, “AT&T Inc.’s decision to scrap unlimited data plans for new customers has prompted a backlash from bloggers and consumers like Danette Collins. ‘As soon as I can get out of the AT&T plan, I’ll switch to Verizon,’ said Collins, a finance and operations manager in Portland, Oregon, who has AT&T service for her iPhone. ‘They’ve just shot themselves in the foot.'”

“AT&T, the second-largest U.S. wireless company, is battling network congestion as it tries to manage soaring demand for data-hungry devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone. The carrier said this week it will cut wireless data-plan prices for most users and stop offering unlimited data plans,” Miller and Kharif report. “Though Dallas-based AT&T has the highest-speed data network, it has the most frequent dropped connections, according to a study by PC Magazine.”

“‘They’re trying to make us use the network less rather than invest in the network,’ Jeff Jarvis, who writes the BuzzMachine blog and has AT&T service for his iPhone, said in an interview,” Miller and Kharif report. “AT&T will provide a 200-megabyte plan for $15 a month and a 2-gigabyte package at $25 that compares with current offers of $30 for unlimited data use. Users who exceed the 2-gigabyte level can pay an extra $10 per month for an additional 1 gigabyte of data service, according to a statement. AT&T is also replacing its unlimited monthly plan for iPad tablet computers with a $25 plan offering 2 gigabytes of data.”

Miller and Kharif report, “Existing AT&T customers can keep their unlimited data plans, the company said. ‘For most consumers this is a good deal’ as their modest monthly data use would qualify them for a cheaper plan, Mike Gikas, senior editor at Consumer Reports in Yonkers, New York, said in an interview. ‘The concern is that given how they’ve changed the plan like this without warning, there’s no stopping them from doing it again if they find it’s not as profitable for them.'”

“How AT&T’s business is affected by the pricing changes will depend in part on whether other wireless carriers follow its lead. Heavy-data users may defect to Verizon Wireless if that company keeps its current pricing, said Barclays Capital analyst James Ratcliffe,” Miller and Kharif report. “Verizon, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, declined to comment on whether it will scrap its advertised unlimited plan, which carries extra charges if customers use more than 5 gigabytes of data a month.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

76 Comments

  1. Sadly, there’s no guarantee Verizon will be any better. But this does threaten to turn into enough of a problem that it will become a serious liability for Apple to remain exclusive with AT&T.

  2. I’m not a huge fan of AT&T;, but give me a break. The unlimited data plan over cell networks just couldn’t last as a concept–not when data demand is so high, and is going to get higher as video comes around. AT&T;and all other carriers are a for-profit business–they are under little obligation to provide services to us for free or at cost. Having a tiered data plan makes total sense.

    Having said that, charging extra for tethering, while providing no extra bandwidth, is complete bullshit. Makes zero sense, can’t possibly make AT&T;all that much money, and is only going to piss off consumers unnecessarily.

    Also, they should have an unlimited plan for data as well. Charge $40/month or something, but give folks the option.

  3. Hello there Sprint, will be nice seeing you with an iPhone and way better pricing than verizon. Would not shock me to see this happen. 2GB a month?? thats it? And you can now tether?? Wow, tether that to your laptop and watch yourself hit the limit in a matter of a few days. A couple weeks at the most for some.

  4. Simply fascinating how the raging complainers are all now declaring that they will leave for Verizon! This really makes absolutely NO sense!! Let’s review (for those in the back row):

    1. You have $30 per month unlimited plan.
    2. AT&T announces that the new iPhone customers will no longer be able to get the unlimited plan;
    3. You can hold on to your unlimited $30 plan indefinitely, even if you want to upgrade your iPhone to the newer model.

    Once again, why are they switching to Verizon? How are they affected/reamed/raped/ripped off by AT&T here???

  5. This will drive more iPhone users (current and potential) to Verizon’s Droids unless VZ gets an iPhone real soon. Like announced this month.

    And I am one of them, put me in for four VZ iPhones if they are announced soon, otherwise I’ll be going with another loser (probably a Sprint EVO or VZ Incredible). Better than nothing!

  6. people really need to look at their usage, the 2GB Datapro plan would probably meet most people’s needs with room to spare and save $5 a month. For the people that are already on unlimited, they keep that plan based on what I read, these changes would affect new users, not existing, seems like there is a big to-do over nothing.

  7. There are two things that make this ‘backlash’ so ironic:

    1. Those who are complaining are those who already HAVE iPhone and are never going to be affected;

    2. Those who WILL be affected (such as myself, who has yet to buy an iPhone) are thrilled that they can finally get an iPhone without being monthly raped by AT&T to the tune of $30. If I’m anything like 40% of US iPhone users, I’ll comfortably fit below 200MB, and will therefore spend $15 per month on data most of the time. My wife most certainly won’t ever go above that limit (web, e-mail and very rare, occasional YouTube; I’d be surprised if she hits 100MB in her best month).

    As a member of a very large silent majority who is thrilled by the sudden affordability of an iPhone plan in the US, I would really like to ask all of you who already have your $30 plans (and can keep them as long as you wish) to please stop complaining in my name. I won’t even mind if you continue to rape AT&T’s network, milking your $30 for all it’s worth. Just don’t pretend to represent majority of current or future iPhone owners in the US.

  8. i contacted ATT and they told me that since I ordered my ipad weeks ago, and its delayed in shipping, they will still honor the unlimited data plan for me even if i get it after the 7th.

  9. Huh! Verizon? They just sent my wife an $800 bill for my son going over their “Unlimited Data” plan….All the telecoms are sock cuckin’ swass ipes.!!!!!! Use ’em or lose ’em!!
    :-o<====3 3-o-;

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