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AT&T Deep-Sixes Unlimited 3G Data Plans For iPad, iPhone

The sweeping changes, which are believed to stem from the pending launch of new Apple iPhone hardware at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference next week, also add an iPhone tethering option.

3G

The sweeping changes, which are believed to stem from the pending launch of new Apple iPhone hardware at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco next week, also add an iPhone tethering option. Apple iPhone users have become impatient waiting for tethering capabilities.

According to an announcement from AT&T, the carrier will now offer users data plans starting at a $15-per-month entry plan or a $25-per-month plan that offers "10 times more data." AT&T noted that current smartphone users do not have to make the switch right away but can switch without a contract extension. AT&T made no changes to its voice or texting plans.

"AT&T helps mobilize everything on the Internet -- your favorite Web sites, TV shows, music, games and social networks. Virtually everything previously done while sitting at a computer can now be done on the go," AT&T Mobility and Consumer President and CEO Ralph de la Vega said in a statement. "To give more people the opportunity to experience these benefits, we’re breaking free from the traditional 'one-size-fits-all' pricing model and making the mobile Internet more affordable to a greater number of people."

The move away from unlimited data plans is a blindside attack on owners of Apple's 3G iPad, who purchased the device prepared to pay $14.99 for 250 MB of data or $29.99 for unlimited data access per month. Under the new plan structure, iPad users will pay $25 per month for 2 GB of data or $15 for 200 MB. AT&T stressed that the iPad plans will still be prepaid with no contract and existing customers who have already shelled out the $29.99 per month for an unlimited plan can keep the plan or switch to the new 2-GB plan.

To help users adjust to the new plan options, which will be available June 7, along with tethering, AT&T said it will send users text messages to alert them of usage levels and access to additional usage information. AT&T also highlighted that customers still have free access to AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots.

AT&T's new plans include DataPlus, which offers 200 MB of data usage for $15; DataPro, which offers 2 GB of data for $25 per month and $10 for each additional GB in the monthly cycle; tethering, which gives smartphone customers with DataPro plans a tethering option, the ability to use smartphones as a modem to deliver a broadband connection to laptops and netbooks, which will be part of iPhone OS 4, for an additional $20 per month.

Along with the new data plans, AT&T restructured its voice and data bundle pricing. Pricing now starts at $54.99 per month for individual plans or $24.99 per month for an additional line on a FamilyTalk plan.

With the new wireless data plans, pricing for a smartphone voice and data bundle now starts at just $54.99 per month for an individual plan, or $24.99 per month for an additional line on a FamilyTalk plan, $15 per month less than the price of the previous entry-level bundle.

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