Here’s a piece of news that may not be to the liking of future iPad owners –AT&T has decided to scrap its unlimited Internet data plan so that those who hog bandwidth the most will also have to shell out more. The move will affect users of the iPad as well as other smart phones which includes Blackberries or iPhones. AT&T is the exclusive carrier for the iPad in the United States.
AT&T justified the move by saying they believe this will help ease congestion on their network which has drawn a lot of flak of late though consumers who aren’t familiar with technical stuff like what can be the volume of data for watching a YouTube video may find the move all the more confusing. AT&T at present is having to deal with network bottlenecks that have been reported mainly from big cities like San Francisco and New York where data consumption is the highest.
All iPad owners till now have unlimited Internet usage plans that cost them $30 per month and will continue to have the same privilege while they renew their contacts. The same however can’t be said of all new iPad owners starting from Monday as there will be a new two tier data plans to choose from.
So as per plan DataPlus, consumers will have to pay $25 per month and will be offered two gigabytes of data to play around with while any extra usage will be charged at the rate of $10 for every gigabyte of data. However, AT&T says this should be enough for the majority, read 98 percent of smart phone users.
And as per plan DataPro, users will be charged $15 every month for 200 megabytes of data. Breach that and another $15 will be levied for every 200 megabytes of data that is used in excess. AT&T however is of the opinion that this would turn out to be enough for 65 percent of its smart phone customers.
AT&T further revealed that the act of ‘tethering’ a phone to a laptop to avail of Internet access through AT&T’s network will attract an additional charge of $20 every month.
So what this essentially means is that consumers who have to deal with little data won’t have to pay at the same rate as those who use huge amounts of data. This should be good for those who may have to deal with lots of email everyday but rarely watch video online. On the other hand, those who watch videos or have to deal with data rich content will have to pay more. However, consumers may not find all of this to their convenience as many are more used to the ‘time’ aspect of data usage rather than the ‘size’ aspect of it. Users have been found to be aware of how many minutes they have used the network but have no idea the huge difference in data usage that occurs depending on the type of activity. So while hundreds of emails or perhaps an equal number of websites visited may still not add up to a gigabyte of data usage, a few videos watched online can quickly eat up a few gigabytes. So, its something that users will definitely have to get used to.
Interestingly, there has been no comments so far from Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless carrier and AT&T’s primary rival. Verizon too at one time featured in the race to sell its version of the iPhone though nothing has come to light as of now.
AT&T also added that the new plans only covers the telecom major’s cellular networks so that any data exchanged over its Wi-Fi networks including it’s public Wi-Fi hot spots is exempted from the new data rates.
If you order the iPad and register it with AT&T by June 7th you can still get the unlimited Data Plan, but after that, bye bye.
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