We’ve all seen the infamous “fair use policy” printed onto our Terms & Conditions when it comes to browsing the web, be it with our broadband or our phones. To addicted users, these words are a brutal enemy. Not that these addicted users tend to take much notice – many leave other users complaining that their loading times are slow because others are downloading massive chunks of data. Unlimited data plans and addicted users appear to be a match made in heaven. However, heavy data users will get a shock from Monday, as they see the string of numbers in the MBs they use reflect the string of numbers in the bill they receive. Or perhaps not?

AT&T have confirmed that, from the start of next week, they will no longer offer the $30 per month unlimited data plan which allows iPhone and other smartphone users to access and use the internet as much as they want. Instead, the company will introduce an alternative method: a pay-as-you-use internet option, allowing you to choose a specific data plan, with a specific data quota and a price tag attached to it. Users who know they only use a slight amount of data have the opportunity to lower their bill, whereas the massive data users out there will start to see their bill on the rise.

The first option from AT&T will be DataPlus. This will cost customers $15 per month, and they will be able to download a maximum of 200 megabytes in that month. AT&T claim that this quota will make it possible for users to access 400 web pages, receive 1,000 e-mails and watch twenty minutes of streaming video from sites like YouTube. However, I’ve never really agreed with the way which companies offer these examples – you can go of average page content and size, but all websites are different.

The second, and final option, that AT&T will offer from Monday is DataPro. Users on the unlimited package will pay $5 less, bringing their bill to $25 per month, and will be able to download a maximum of 2GB in that month. The company has offered the apparent figures that 98% of its customers who use a smartphone on its network use less than 2GB every month. For those addicted users who are still eager or compelled to use over their quote, there are some big charges in the pipeline. If a DataPlus user exceeds their 200MB limit, they will be charged another $15 for every 200MB they use, with an extra charge of $10 for every additional 1GB they use.

However, AT&T will be continuing to allow customers who use the unlimited plan to remain on that plan, costing $30 per month. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how in any way does this help to reduce the amount of data that heavy users will download. It’s quite clear that the heavy users which AT&T say are causing the problem today by using huge chunks of data, are simply going to stick with their unlimited plan. That means that AT&T aren’t going to speed up the internet for other users, they will only freeze the speed at which it can be used a present, because they are not taking any internet usage away from the users which are already using so much and slowing the network down today. Sure, nobody else can join the unlimited plan and slow down the connections even further, but the current heavy users will stick to their unlimited data plans, use as much as they do today and therefore continue to slow down the internet. So the mobile internet geeks out there need not worry – if you’re with AT&T, you can simply stick with your unlimited plan.

In addition, the company says that only 2% of users are the ones which make such a heavy drain on the network resources and therefore slow down the internet. If this is the case, then there aren’t many other people with such demands who are going to join the network on an unlimited plan and slow the speeds. If the carrier really wanted to help speed up the network, reduce heavy usage and cut costs on their end, should they not have removed the unlimited data plan all together. The speeds will simply be frozen, the loading time will not be reduced. Articles are reporting that other carriers are likely to do the same in the near future.

What do you think? Are you an AT&T user? Do you use the iPhone? Are you on an unlimited data plan? Do you use a lot of data? Would you describe yourself as a data-hog? What do you think of the new pricing? Will you stick with the unlimited plan? Will you save money by selecting DataPlus or DataPro instead of the unlimited plan? Do you think this is a good solution? Let us know what you think, leave a comment.

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