AT&T introduces new data plans ahead of iPhone 4G launch

With Apple's iPhone introduction just hours away, AT&T pre-emptively adjusted their data plans to prepare themselves for video conferencing on the iPhone

In just a few hours, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will take the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and introduce the iPhone 4G. Thanks to a number of high profile leaks, however, many of the device's new features are already well-known. Aside from a high resolution 960x480 display, the next-gen iPhone will also sport a front facing video camera, making mobile video chatting a reality.

Now given AT&T's struggles to keep up with bandwidth demands from current iPhone users, it's only natural to wonder how AT&T is planning to handle increased bandwidth in the form of video. Well, AT&T doesn't want to position themselves even further into a corner, so early last week they announced new data plans that conveniently, but not coincidentally, go into effect tomorrow.

Under the new plan, AT&T has nixed its customary $30/month for unlimited data and has instead replaced it with 2 tiers.

The first tier starts at $15/month and affords iPhone users 200MB of data. The second tier starts at $25/month and affords iPhone users 2GB of data. Is this a reasonable cap? Ma' Bell sure thinks so. According to AT&T, 65% of current AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200MB a month while 98% of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2GB a month. That's all well and good, but it'd be interesting to find out what those figure are when applied strictly to iPhone users, who tend to consume a lot more data than other smartphone owners.

In any event, current iPhone users who wish to retain their $30/month unlimited data plan can do so and will be grandfathered in if they so choose. Incidentally, AT&T also announced that tethering support will finally be implemented when iPhone OS 4 is released, and will cost users $20 extra per month. The rub is that the tethering option for current iPhone owners is only available if those users abandon their current unlimited plan and sign up for AT&T's 2GB capped $25/month plan, dubbed the DataPro plan. So basically, AT&T is charging customers an extra fee just for the right to tether. That aside, AT&T's new data plan seems pretty reasonable.

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