AT&T Offers New Data Plans & Tethering: Discovers More Ways to Anger Dedicated iPhone Customers

by Matt Klassen on June 4, 2010

With stories such as this, it really makes you wonder if AT&T even knows the meaning of the words “customer satisfaction.” Sure the wireless giant talks about its dedication to its customers, to improving its struggling wireless network, and to providing the best service in the country for its cadre of iPhone users, but seemingly with each new day AT&T finds new and creative ways to anger and frustrate its loyal customers.

In two such moves this week AT&T simultaneously announced a change in the data plans it will offer, a move apparently intended to save you money, and the revelation that will finally see the company offer an AT&T sanctioned tethering option for iPhone users, a way for users to finally utilize their mobile Internet connection on other devices. But what’s so bad about that? It actually seems like AT&T is doing something good for a change.

Oh you poor, naïve AT&T customers, have you learned nothing yet?

On the surface both these options seem great, especially for those enjoying the unlimited data transfer plan. Just imagine the money you’ll save now that you can just use your mobile 3G connection for all your devices. But dig a little deeper—or just read the not-so-fine print—and you’ll quickly realize your dream has turned into a nightmare.

With that said, I hope you enjoyed the bygone era of the unlimited, all-you-can-eat buffet style download plans, because they are officially a thing of the past. Instead, the revolutionary new era of pay-per-byte data plans are upon us, with AT&T now offering the DataPlus option, which will support a measly 200MB of data at a cost of US $15 per month; and the beefier DataPro plan, which will accommodate 2GB of data at a cost of US $25 per month. The good news, however, is that for those that are already signed up for the $30 unlimited plan, you’ll have the option to stick with that plan or switch to one of the cheaper options.

But why would you want to switch from your unlimited data plan now that tethering has finally arrived for the iPhone? Oh ya, I forget to mention, if you want to tether, you’ll have to wave goodbye to that cushy unlimited plan.

It is here that this story really delves deeply into the realm of the ludicrous. For not only do users have to pay an extra $20 a month for tethering, which means that a DataPro plan would now cost $45 per month, but with that extra $20 you don’t actually get anything more.

As noted on popular tech site Gizmodo, consider the fact that the old, non-iPhone tethering plan offered you 5GB of extra tethering data for an additional $30 a month. This new plan, however, charges you $20 extra to use the same 2GB pool of data for tethering, meaning, unfortunately, that you are not buying any extra data for that extra money.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that AT&T is royally screwing over its customers once again. Under the old system, you paid $60 a month for unlimited data plus 5GB worth of extra tethering data. Under the new plan, however, you will pay $45 for 2GB of data…total. Simply put, what AT&T is doing here is charging you extra based solely on how you like to use your allotted data space. Wow! I can feel those extra savings already.

While I’m sure AT&T has reasons for this shift, as they have noted in the past that a small percentage of iPhone users actually use more they 2GB of data transfers, and while reigning in those who like to download copious amounts of data may in fact speed up the network for other users (although this remains to be seen), it still abundantly clear that AT&T has found more ways to screw over its customers yet again.

Is the iPhone really worth all that?

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