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AT&T hikes data limits – and fees

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 3:02pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

AT&T is adding more megabits to its data plans, but it's also raising its fees.

Starting Sunday, new customers will have to pick from more expensive plans that come with higher amounts of data. Existing customers will be able to keep their current plans.

"Customers are using more data than ever before," AT&T Mobility chief marketing officer David Christopher said in the Wednesday announcement. "Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment."

The move to more expensive data service mirrors changes to AT&T's texting plans last August, when it phased out cheaper plans in favor of $20 unlimited SMS service.

AT&T's DataPlus plan, which currently offers 200 MB for $15 per month, will move to a 300 MB plan that costs $20 per month. Under the current DataPlus plan, customers who went over their limit were charged $15 for an additional 200 MB. Under the new plan, customers who pass their data limit will be charged $20 for an extra 300 MB.

AT&T's $25 DataPro 2 GB plan will be switched to a 3 GB plan that costs $30 per month. The $45 DataPro 4GB plan with tethering will be replaced by a $50 plan that comes with 5 GB and also offers tethering. Overage charges will remain the same: Customers who go over their data limits will be charged $10 for an extra 1 GB of data.

Customers will receive SMS alerts when they're about to go over their allotted amount of data.

AT&T is also offering new plans for its tablet customers but is keeping its current $15 plan for 250 MB. The new DataConnect plans include 3 GB for $30 per month and 5 GB for $50 per month.

Verizon Wireless charges $30 for its 2 GB plan and $50 for its 5 GB smartphone plan. Sprint includes unlimited data in three of its service plans, and T-Mobile USA bundles in different amounts of high-speed data with its plans.

AT&T was the first operator in the United States to stop offering unlimited data. Verizon Wireless later followed suit, and T-Mobile USA began throttling customers' speeds once they passed certain limits. Sprint still offers all-you-can-eat data but has not completely ruled out a move to tiered plans if buffet-style service becomes unprofitable.

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