Friday, August 5, 2011

Re: AT&T vs. Free-Tethering

So, AT&T is getting ready to kill users unlimited data plans if they are caught tethering. What I want to know is if they are also targeting users NOT on the unlimited plan? My guess is no, and I haven't seen mention of it in any of the forum threads I've read thus far. What you DO see is a bunch people arguing the same thing over and over, "Data is data, no matter how it is consumed. AT&T charging an extra $20 to spread the data around is robbery." While I don't find the need to tether myself, I am sympathetic to that argument with one exception …the $30 unlimited data plan. I'm not saying there shouldn't be an unlimited data plan, or that it should cost $100 a month. I'm just saying I can look at the situation through AT&T's eyes and the move doesn't make me upset. The phrase "Unlimited Data" was a great marketing gimmick back when data usage was scarce, and I think $30 was quite a bit to charge for it a couple years ago—people simply couldn't go through that much data. Now that everyone is video chatting and streaming movies and audio, things have changed and with all the network problems I can see why AT&T killed the unlimited plan. I think that's their call, and if they want to enforce the no tethering rule on that plan I think they have the right to.

Now, back to the other plans… can anyone confirm that AT&T is planning to enforce the no tethering rule on anything other than the unlimited plans? I am betting no, which means you could simply drop down to the $25 2GB data plan and free-tether to your heart's content without AT&T giving a damn. Why? Because the system can no longer be abused by heavy data users, and that's all they really want.
  • 2GB = $25
  • 3GB = $35 (the $25 plan + a $10 1GB overage charge)
  • 4GB = $45 ("Legal" tethering plan, or the $25 plan + two $10 1GB overage charges)
  • 5GB = $55 …and $10 more for each additional GB
That doesn't sound too terrible to me. If you are a free-tethering and using more than $30-worth (2.5GB) of data at their new rates I think AT&T is well within their right to force you off the unlimited plan. Go throw your hissy fit and move to Verizon (not that their plans are any better). If you are free-tethering on the 2GB plan and they've warned you that they're going to bump you up to the $45 plan if you don't stop …that's when I'd call shenanigans.