AT&T, commonly referred to by many in the United States as the “Death Star,” may be feeling the competition from Verizon. They may be hoping to keep customers by giving them features and more options much sooner than originally planned.
AT&T has recently announced two new options for iOS users. The first is the availability of the iOS 4.3 Hotspot feature. At the Verizon event, Apple introduced the Hotspot feature, which allows an iPhone to act as a WiFi access point for up to 5 other devices.
In order to use this feature, users are required to give up their unlimited data plans and go with the 2GB per month plan for $25 and get the 2GB tethering plan for $20 for a total of 4GB for $45 per month.
This is outrageous. For those of us who have had unlimited data since the original iPhone, we have more than paid for our data usage. If you got the original iPhone and paid for unlimited data since the first day you have paid $1270, plus taxes where applicable, just for DATA on AT&T. Are you telling me that it costs AT&T $360 per iPhone user per year to maintain data towers and provide us data? I surely doubt it.
Ranting aside, the second new feature that AT&T has introduced is the ability to post-pay for their tablet data. Previously AT&T only offered pre-pay options for tablets (read iPad since that was the only tablet available on AT&T). Pre-pay means that you must pay for the data upfront whether you use it or not.
The addition of the post-paid model means that AT&T can add the tablet charges to their cell phone bills. This makes it very convenient for customers who already have a phone on AT&T and don’t want to have deal with more than one wireless bill. This will be extremely good for businesses who wish to provide their employees with a tablet.
The only difference between the pre-paid and post-paid options is the overage costs. For the pre-paid you will be charged $25 for an additional 2GB of data, while on the post-paid option you will be charged $10 per gigabyte of overage.
AT&T is also having a limited-time promotion. Any user who activates a new 2GB for $25 post-paid plan will get their first month of service free (up to 2GB). If you go over 2GB, you will be charged the $10 per gigabyte overage.
This subtle difference means that if you use 2.2 GB worth of data on the pre-paid plan, you will be charged $50 total, while on the post-paid plan you will be charged $35 for data. It’s not that big of a difference but it can add-up quickly.
I’m not sure why there is such a distinction, but my guess is that AT&T is looking to bolster their post-paid subscriber numbers and this will give some an incentive to go with the post-paid plan.
I have two entirely different ideas for AT&T. The first idea is to let me have “rollover data.” Yes, just like rollover minutes, data would rollover for 12 months. So one month if I only use 300MB out of my 2GB, I would get the other 1.7GB in my rollover data stash. Therefore if need be I could use 3GB one month and not be charged for overages.
The second option is to allow me to have a “data bucket.” This bucket would contain let’s say 4GB for ALL of my gadgets that use 3G. All that would be needed is to register the IMEI numbers and then I could use 4GB across all of my gadgets. So if I have two iPads and an iPhone that are 3G-enabled, I would not have to have two separate plans for them. Now if we only combine this with the data rollover, I don’t think people would complain so much.