We’re constantly connected to our iPhones and Crackberries for a reason. Our smartphone’s unlimited data plan is awesome because we can make calls, send texts and emails, surf the web, listen to music, take pictures, watch videos, pay exorbitant cell phone bills…wait. There’s a drawback to our favorite gadget, but At&T might be able to help us save money.
It turns out that while we foot the bill for unlimited data usage, the vast majority of us aren’t using nearly enough data to justify the expense. According to AT&T, less than 2% of users consume the vast majority of data (and slow the network down for the rest of us).
Since we’re really just sending some emails and playing photographer during girls’ night out, couldn’t we just pay less? AT&T is on it. The sole provider for the iPhone 4 is offering two new “capped data plans.” (That just means that they limit the amount of data we can use.) New customers will have to subscribe to one. There are two options:
DataPlus: $15 per month for 200 megabytes of data transfer
Data Pro: $25 per month for 2 gigabytes of data transfer
Two hundred megabytes means 10,000 emails without attachments, 1,500 with attachments, 4,000 pages of web browsing, and more. Not sure how much data you actually consume? Punch your info into AT&T’s data usage calculator, and it will give you an estimated monthly usage. You might be surprised.
Now, AT&T isn’t exactly being magnanimous by analyzing our usage and charging us less. Be wary: If you calculate your usage and are a member of the 2% skewing the curve—or if you plan to tether your phone to your laptop (share the wireless connection, in layman’s terms)—the unlimited plan works in your favor. Users already on the unlimited $30 per month plan can choose to keep it or to knock down their bills.
Yet, if it turns out that you’re a current customer and low-volume user, consider the new alternatives. It’s worth calculating your data usage no matter what, since tiered, capped data plans are trend of the future, for better or for worse.