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!