AT&T recently announced the end of its unlimited data plans for iPhone and other smartphone users. Instead of one flat-rate unlimited option, the carrier now offers tiers of service that allow users a certain amount of data access each month.
Note that these prices are per month costs for data only; you'll also need to subscribe to a voice plan in order to make calls.
Here's an overview of each plan.
AT&T's DataPlus plan lets you access 200MB of data each month. AT&T says that 200MB of data is enough to:
If you go over your 200MB limit, you will receive an additional 200MB of data for another $15. That extra 200MB of data must be used in the same billing cycle, however.
AT&T says that 65 percent of its smartphone customers user less than 200MB of data per month on average.
If you think you'll use more than 200MB of data consistently, the DataPlus plan is not your best option, as you'll end up paying $30 per month for 400MB of data. A better option would be what's next on the list, the $25-per-month DataPro plan.
AT&T's DataPro plan lets you access 2GB of data each month. AT&T says that 2GB of data is enough to:
If you go over the 2GB limit, you will receive an additional 1GB of data for $10 per month. That extra 1GB of data must be used in the same billing cycle, however.
AT&T says that 98 percent of its smartphone customers use less than 2GB of data per month on average.
If your smartphone allows tethering, which means you can use it as a modem to connect other devices to the Internet (a feature that will be available in the iPhone's iOS 4), you'll need to add a tethering plan.
To use a tethering plan, you must also subscribe to AT&T's DataPro plan, and then will need to add the tethering option on top of that.
Note that all of the data you use while tethering your smartphone counts against the 2GB limit of your DataPro plan.
Monitoring Your Data Usage
AT&T says it will notify customers via text message (and e-mail, if possible) when they are nearing their monthly data limit. AT&T says it will send 3 notifications: when customers reach 65 percent, 90 percent, and 100 percent of their monthly data allotment.
AT&T also allows customers with iPhones and other "select" devices to use its AT&T myWireless app to check data usage. The free app is available in Apple's App Store from the iPhone, as well as in other smartphone app stores.
Additional options for checking your data usage include dialing *DATA# from your smartphone, or visiting att.com/wireless.
If you're not sure which data plan is right for you, you can estimate your personal data usage with AT&T's data calculator. It's at att.com/datacalculator.