AT&T announced it will raise its smartphone data plans $5 across the board starting Sunday, causing some to speculate that the price hike could cause many to leave the wireless carrier.
Despite AT&T informing us that the new plans give customers "more data and value," the truth is it's not that different from the old plans.
The new smartphone plans include:
AT&T Data Plus 300MB: $20 for 300MB
AT&T Data Pro 3GB: $30 for 3GB
AT&T Data Pro 5GB: $50 for 5GB, with mobile hotspot / tethering
The new tablet plans include:
AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $30 for 3GB
AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB
Previously the lowest data plan was $15 for 200MB of data, the next was $25 for 2 GB and $45 for 4GB -- so the rise is $5 across the board and a small rise in data. The tablet plans still have the lowest plan, $15 for 250MB, but the rest have a $5 rise and similar gain in data. Last year, AT&T did away with its unlmited data plans.
The news plans don't affect current subscribers and those renewing plans can stay with their old plans, but any new customers coming Sunday or later will get the higher rates. AT&T said it needed to raise rates to keep up with higher data usage.
“Customers are using more data than ever before,” David Christopher, AT&T’s chief marketing officer said in a prepared statement. “Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment.”
Verizon decided against a $2 fee last month against public outcry, but that's not deterring AT&T from raising rates even if their calculations may be a little off. We also wrote about a lawsuit filed last month that also claimed AT&T overcharges users 7 to 14 percent a month.
For new AT&T customers the cheapest alternative will likely be to take the carrier's most inexpensive data plan and use free Wi-Fi whenever possible -- or find another carrier.