updated 11:15 am EST, Fri January 11, 2008
ATT 5GB Soft Cap Leak
AT&T may impose a data limit on its previously unlimited smartphone Internet plans, according to an apparent leak from Howard Forums' employee-only discussions. If true, the carrier's plans for PDAs and smartphones would receive a 5GB data limit similar to that at its rival Verizon; unlike the latter's services, however, the limit will be 'soft' and meant to discourage heavy use rather than a potential cut-off point or a trigger for overage fees. Users will reportedly be warned if they frequently cross the limit and may be asked to consider alternatives.
In exchange, the cost of a data plan for the phone class should drop to $30 to match the same rates for AT&T's BlackBerry Personal plan, the report adds. Under the shift, text messaging will also allegedly be broken away from data bundles to allow users to potentially lower their costs; a standard "feature phone" data plan will cost $15 (down from $20) without texting but will require an extra $5 for 200 text messages or $15 for 1200 messages. Combining both unlimited data and text will cost about $35 per month on top of a calling plan.
All these updates should occur within the next few weeks, the AT&T workers say.
These smartphone plan changes may create an imbalance between users of conventional smartphones such as the AT&T Tilt and new cross-over devices such as the iPhone, effectively permitting heavier use of the Apple phone while discouraging more than essential use from its more work-oriented competitors.
Rate plans for the iPhone are unlikely to be affected as the plans were jointly devised by Apple and AT&T and roughly match the new pricing system for data and text messages. However, AT&T recently allowed iPhone subscribers to drop data from their plans and could theoretically allow discarding text messaging as well under the new format.