AT&T’s raising the prices of legacy unlimited data plans

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AT&T Is Increasing Prices For Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans, Still a Great Deal.

AT&T plans to hike the cost of its unlimited wireless data plans by $5 in February 2016. AT&T hasn’t offered new customers unlimited data since 2012, but users who snapped them up in the iPhone 3G era and clung to them until now (including yours truly) will see the first price hike in seven years, from $30 a month to $35.

AT&T gave up on unlimited plans in 2012 back when 3G was king but many users are still holding on to their juicy contracts and refuse to let them go. “Consumers and businesses are using mobile data at record levels and the trend is expected to continue,” AT&T said on its support page announcing the price hike. “To help ensure we continue to provide the best service for all of our customers, a small price increase is being made at this time.” AT&T says anyone who doesn’t like the price increase will be able to cancel their contract without incurring any early termination fees if they do so within 60 days after the price hike first shows up on their bill. The story behind the story: For an offering that hasn’t been offered to new customers for three years, AT&T’s unlimited data sure has been in the news a lot in 2015. While AT&T previously came under fire for throttling these so-called unlimited plans to a lower speed after customers hit 5GB, the company recently changed its policy. In June, the Federal Communications Commission said it intended to fine AT&T $100 million for misleading customers by throttling data speeds for unlimited customers.

Now it only throttles users “if you exceed 22GB of data in a billing cycle and are in a congested area.” Why this matters: If you have unlimited data with AT&T and you’re still under contract, you still have to pay the increased cost. Then in September, AT&T upped the throttling cap to 22GB from 5GB, which likely avoids throttling issues for all but the most extreme data users on AT&T’s networks. AT&T hopes customers will move to its Mobile Share Value plans instead—which can save you money versus paying for separate data buckets for each user, although then you also have to, you know, share the data. Big Red tacked a whopping $20 onto its unlimited plans, upping the cost to about $50, while T-Mobile upped its price by $15 (T-Mobile’s plan includes unlimited talk and text).

If you’re the owner of a AT&T unlimited data plan and this move is SHOCKING and OUTRAGEOUS to you, you’ve got 60 days to cancel your account with no early termination fee. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon will cover the costs of switching from another carrier, as long as you turn in your current smartphone and buy a new one.

Nevertheless, if you’re unhappy with AT&T’s price hop check out Macworld’s breakdown of what the other carriers have to offer prospective new iPhone owners. At Sprint, a new 64GB iPhone 6s is $100 down and $15 a month if you trade in another smartphone—it’s a 22-month lease, but you’re allowed to upgrade to a new iPhone anytime.

Buying from T-Mobile can be a little confusing, though, because they also have Jump On Demand, only available in T-Mobile stores, which requires a device trade-in but lowers the device fees, to $0 upfront and $5/month for a 16GB iPhone 6s. Unlike Sprint and T-Mobile, Verizon will charge you if you go over your allotment, at $15 per 1GB. (T-Mo and Sprint don’t charge you more, they just reduce your speeds.) Verizon’s plans also all have $20 tacked on for “monthly line access,” so your $45 data plan will result in a monthly bill of $65. Family plans get more complicated based on how many lines you need and how much data you can share, not to mention the possible inconvenience of switching your whole family at the same time. My parents are on my plan, for example, even though they live 3,500 miles away—so I’m most likely cooling my jets for the time being and paying AT&T the extra $5, although I’m not thrilled about it.

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