So the big news today in the tech world is that AT&T Wireless will be drastically changing their smartphone data plan options on June 7th.
It boils down to the following for smartphone users:
- No more $30 “unlimited”(actually 5gb) data plan (if you have one now you can still be on it, even if you buy the new iPhone, but you won’t be able to get it back if you change plans)
- Choice 1: “DataPlus” $15 a month for 200mb of data (Overages: $15 for each additional 200mb)
- Choice 2: “DataPro” $25 a month for 2gb of data (Overages: $10 for each additional 1gb)
- If you want to tether your data, you’ll have to choose the DataPro plan and pay an additional $20. (Shitty, but unsurprising)
Naturally, the first thing that went through my mind when i saw this was, “ZOMG WTF!! FUCK YOU AT&T YOU ARE THE WORST!”
Then, once I was done nerd raging, I thought, “Hmm, how much data do I actually use each month?”
Here’s my last 6 months of usage (You can find your graph by logging into your AT&T wireless page and clicking “Past Data Usage”):
I’ve gone over the hypothetical 200mb plan only twice, and didn’t even come close to a 2gb limit. I can’t remember what I did in November, but I do know that in May I had been streaming more live baseball games using the MLB At Bat app. Using the iPhone for Twitter, Foursquare, and looking random shit up while you are out does not use up a ton of bandwidth. It’s pretty clear streaming media is going to be the deciding factor for a lot of people. Since I’m paying $30 a month for data currently, I could be saving either $15 or $5, depending on how much I want to limit myself to.
That’s the good news. The concerning news is how this will affect rumored features in the new iPhone, such as video calls and a cloud-based iTunes. According to Wired, 200mb is roughly 7 hours of streaming audio. Thats like 2 baseball games, or a few commutes. Live, 2-way video streaming just sounds like it would eat up bandwidth like Brian ate poop in last month’s Family Guy episode. While I don’t see myself using video chat regularly, I’d like the option to, without feeling like I’m wasting precious allocated bits.
Maybe it was just wishful thinking to assume I could save $15 a month on my phone bill. It’s looking pretty tough to get by on only 200mb if you’re looking to stream any sort content. Ideally, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, or whatever music cloud service ends up winning will over a robust caching feature so I can just preload all of my music at home before heading out into the wild.
Another silver lining in all of this is that AT&T will let you figure out which plan you want without much dicking:
The carrier’s going to be very flexible about changing between the DataPlus and DataPro plans — if you’re on DataPlus, for example, and you discover that you’re blowing past your allotment, you can choose either to start DataPro the following billing cycle, pro-rate it, or apply the higher plan retroactively to the beginning of your current billing cycle.
I look at this whole thing as hey, at least I’ll probably be saving $5 a month at the very least.
Read a more detailed breakdown on Engadget.