04 Jun 2010
US operator AT&T’s announcement this week that it will replace unlimited data plans, including those for iPhone users, with two plans that limit consumption is a significant move for the US.
Operators in the US have long held out on efforts to replace unlimited flat-rate pricing.
But unprecedented iPhone data use has meant continual congestion problems for AT&T, giving rise to more and more consumer complaints over quality.
AT&T simply had to bite the bullet.
Starting June 7, it will replace its $29.99 unlimited plan with two new plans; the $15 per month DataPlus plans includes 200MB of data, whilst the DataPro plan includes 2GB of data for $25 per month.
In addition, AT&T will separately charge DataPro customers for tethering - another data-hungry trend that is also becoming pervasive throughout Asia.
AT&T rival Verizon Wireless is also on the case, with chief executive Lowell McAdam telling the FT last week that unlimited bandwidth packages won’t be available for LTE, which is due to launch later this year.
The US moves were not unexpected - operators have been warming up the local market to the prospect of canning unlimited plans for some time.
On this side of the Pacific, operators in developed markets have been implementing smarter ways of managing traffic on their networks through new billing schemes.