Is the AT&T Unlimited Data Plan Coming Back?

UPDATED AT THE BOTTOM :: Verizon will be getting the iPhone and offering unlimited data plans to all customers. Will AT&T keep up??

We all know what a disaster it was when AT&T pulled the plug on the unlimited data plan for iPhone on June 7th, 2010. Then they slapped us in the face by launching the tethering feature AFTER the fact, so they would ensure that nobody could possibly tether their iPhone while on the unlimited plan unless they felt like jailbreaking their device…but that’s another story!

From a business standpoint, this made perfect sense. I mean, ever since the iPhone launched, AT&T has taken quite a beating from both consumers and critics for their QoS problems (that’s quality of service for those non tech-savvy readers!), but who could have predicted the popularity of the phone? I think everyone was skeptical of another computer company releasing a phone–look how the first Microsoft-powered phones fared.

Lack of sufficient data

When the $30 unlimited plan was pulled, we were left with two limited options: 200MB for $15 per month or 2GB for $25 per month. The fear was that we now had to vigilantly watch our usage so as not to be hit with per MB overages. On iPhone (or any smartphone for that matter), it’s hard to put a ‘mental’ cap on something like data because practically the entire phone is using data for everything! However, the truth of the matter is that when you looked at your actual data usage and compared it to what you thought you used, most people were very surprised–myself included.

So now we have two caps and a new feature: tethering. It adds $30 or $35 to your data cost depending on whether you get the Enterprise plan or not. The problem here isn’t the price because you could easily spend $60+ on a 3G plan from any major provider. The issue is simply that a limited data plan my be fine for a phone, but not a laptop! How many YouTube videos or Netflix movies can you stream until you hit your cap?!

Unlimited plan coming back??

Due to my recent ramblings about how the iPad compares to the new MacBook Air, I have put serious thought into selling my iPad and getting an Air, but my main problem was the lack of wireless 3G Internet access for the Air–and considering the fact that almost every other netbook has 3G services built in, this is a big deal.

I began searching for other options. I was looking into how much more cost I would incur by adding a 3G/4G Internet device to my tech arsenal. The logical first step was to check out AT&T since I’m already a customer. All I ended up finding was the same limited data plan at a high cost. I figured if I was going down this road, I might as well just add the tethering to my phone.

That’s when I discovered this:

Current iPhone data plans from AT&T
Current iPhone data plans from AT&T

What you’re seeing here is a current screenshot from my AT&T Wireless account. While looking at my options for adding tethering to my account, I discovered that the original unlimited data plan is now on the list of features I can change! Also, a new Enterprise data plan has seemed to appeared although I’m not sure why it’s there and more importantly why it’s cheaper. When clicked on, both plans show almost identical product descriptions except the cheaper one talks about “savings”.

What does this mean?

I can’t really say. It could be that because I’m a grandfathered customer, I still have access (at least visually) to the original unlimited plan. The second Enterprise plan may have just shown up because they changed the price. Who knows, but what I can say is that until I learn more about the above screenshot, I’m not changing a thing! I don’t feel like running the risk of losing my current unlimited plan!

If someone from AT&T is out there, please look into this matter and see what you can find because the few AT&T reps I’ve spoken to don’t seem to have a clue.

New Verizon iPhone

UPDATE: Jan 12, 2011 — I’m posting this update because as everyone is aware, Verizon is now getting the iPhone on February 10th. Verizon has also stated that they will be offering the same unlimited data plans enjoyed by their current customers to all iPhone customers as well.

If AT&T is smart, they’ll want to reinstate their unlimited plans on the iPhone, but only time will tell. It looks like the flood gates just got opened!

17 thoughts on “Is the AT&T Unlimited Data Plan Coming Back?

  1. I'm still on the unlimited data plan and use a pretty old Smartphone. I don't want to switch over to a new one and want to stay as long as possible on it due to the bandwidth caps on all AT&T Smartphones. I know its nearly impossible to use 2GB in a month and my usage has been 200 mb on average per month with one month going up to 400 mb but this was due to a billing error that has since been corrected.

  2. Im grandfathered in as well. I have used up to 7 GB in a month once. Im always using laptop on the road tethered to my jailbroken iphone 3GS, watch netflix and tv on it too. Flawless and never a complaint from att. I even called up one month and asked if i was going to be charged extra cause it hit over 5gb. Multiple att customer service reps assured me that i have unlimited data, and can use as much as i like. My friend one time hit 13 GBs and never received any additional charges. If they keep these plans grandfathered in for a long time, i will be an att customer until it changes. Cheers!!!

    1. I was always wondering about using Netflix on the road! I can't imagine how much data I would use if I took my iPad on the go. But unfortunately, I don't have an unlimited plan on that! Great point about the data cap–I always found it amazing that these cell companies would sell an unlimited plan, yet put a hidden cap on the data usage. It seems a little shady to me. I guess from a business standpoint it makes sense. Imagine if every user had a jail broken iPhone and was using it to tether data to a laptop?!

    1. I found it by logging into my wireless account at attwireless.com. In your account, it allows you to configure the features of your account. In there, I was just looking at the options for my data plan because I was considering the tethering option and that screenshot was what I found.

    2. You can find this information in your account at attwireless.com. You can always view what features you can add, change or remove there. When I logged into my account, those were the options I found for the data plans.

  3. I work for Att sales. The reason why your screen shows the unlimited plans like that is because you have an existing unlimited plan. If you were to choose a new plan that is not limited, you would see your unlimited options disappear in a matter of 24 hours or less. As long as you still have that feature added on your account it will show it as an option, that's the way our sales system at work will work. Does that make sense? Also, the discounted enterprise plan is possibly your account was created under our business market, named NBI. Or your company you work for may have special discounted rates and you have applied your corporate discount on your account.

    1. That makes total sense. And yes, I do have a corporate discount applied to my account and I also have the Enterprise data plan. Let me ask you this…if I were to unselect the Enterprise data plan and change it to the regular Unlimited data plan that's still an option for me, would that cause me to lose access to all unlimited plans and be stuck with a limited one?

  4. Verizon wireless announced the release of iPhone for February 10, 2010. They have unlimited plans for Droid so I assume they will offer it for iPhone. It could make things interesting.

  5. I want to get an aircard for my laptop so i can use it in the car, i am in Alaska and it seems only AT&T is available here with no unlimited data cards now. I would use up 2gb to download what, 6 xvid tv shows? thats ridiculous. I would be using well over 20-30gb a month easy, so I really need a unlimited aircard and I dont think its available here, FAIL!!

    1. I can totally sympathize with you. Living down here in Southern California, we take for granted all the available options we have for service–both cellular and Internet. I remember thinking once how great it would be to own an aircard so I could have Internet everywhere I go, but as time went on, I noticed I already have Internet wherever I go (almost). You'd think these companies would work better with people like you in far off remote areas and maybe offer select unlimited plans or even create some kind of better service out there. But I guess in the end it's all about what makes them more money, right?

      1. I once had an AirCard. What AT&T did not tell me whas it had an odd limit of 3GB an it didn’t tell you when you were getting close to your limit. I used 19GB the first month and had over $200 in overage fees. Luckily AT&T took this off my bill considering it was an unusual amount on my account. AirCards arent all they’re cracked up to be.

        1. That sucks! But all the companies seem to be claiming everything is unlimited or "not monitored", but in reality, there are limits on all of it! I love that T-Mobile commercial that clearly states "unlimited data" but in fine print at the bottom, it says data limited to 2GB per month! Although they can skirt around this claim because technically the 2GB is for 3G service…anything after that gets demoted to the slower 2G network.

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