A few weeks back, AT&T introduced sorry excuses for updated data plans, namely for the iPhone and iPad. While they lowered the initial “DataPro” monthly cost plans by $5, the real story is its limits and what it means for people moving forward. With a new 2GB per month limit down from UNLIMITED, it looks like, at least for me, my data charges will end up being closer to $35-$45 because it costs an extra $10 for every 1GB over the limit. AT&T seems to think most users will not have an issue going over the limit, but with more and more apps streaming more and more data, I think this plan and others like it will end up being crucified by users as their data consumption begins to ramp up along with new services and apps.

In looking at my data usage for my iPhone 3gs for the first time, I had been averaging about 1GB a month (lots of YouTube and streaming music). This past month, I bought MobiTV and have been using it quite extensively. This was the only real change in my data usage. My May 2010 data meter is at 1.5GB used. Now it’s June and I am just about halfway into the billing cycle. I have used over 1.2 GB of bandwidth (pictured). And let’s face it, now with Pandora’s backgrounding capabilities, I am going to be using that in my car a lot more over 3g. It will all add up. I doubt I am anywhere near alone or in some strange 1% minority.

(A snapshot of my data from the AT&T MyWireless app as of today)

AT&T must be using old data to support their claim that 98% of customers do not go above 2GB. Let’s not forget that certain apps have only recently become available to offer serious video over 3g. Live streaming video apps like uStream were only unleashed within the last 8 months. In the last couple of months we have seen an increase in opening the gate to data heavy apps, which leads me to believe the metrics used have left this out.

This is scary because it is not very forward thinking. The iPhone and the iPad are only going to get more and more video and audio apps. Imagine me, a user who is in the car a couple hours a day and even more on the weekend. While driving, my iPhone is either pulling down streaming Pandora/Sirius or Mobitv and then the same even when I’m at home and other places. If I started to enjoy other services like MLB AT Bat or upped my YouTube usage, my 2GB would be up even more quickly.

Add in tethering or even video chat with the new iPhone staying below 2GB will not be possible. Along with Comcast’s 25GB per month cap, this is another very dangerous and short sighted limitation. Both of these caps are not poised for growth in a market and industry where DATA only gets larger. Fundamentally, hard drives get larger. iPhone capacity gets larger. Video quality gets better/larger.

(A picture of one of AT&T’s actual eyes)

We are paying AT&T for the delivery of data. This is such a bad road to go down because it limits how much data we can receive, thus, how much content we can enjoy effectively. I hope this is a result of Apple’ imminent partnering with someone else who can offer a reasonable and forward-thinking data service. Let’s not even talk about the new 375$ cancellation fee for iPhones or the overall less-than-impressive quality of video of AT&T 3g across the board.

There are plenty of things wrong with Comcast, AT&T and the like. AT&T is choosing similar short sighted tactics and unfortunately, Apple is a part of it. It’s just a bad customer experience. I don’t think the general consensus is going to let this one fly regardless. 5GB would be closer to a good starting point. Even so, these plan limits have to increase as time goes on and we haven’t seen that yet.

So have you been checking your data regularly since this announcement? Do you agree that this will be a problem in the future?