AT&T Next Up On Requiring Data Plans on Smartphones

By  |  Friday, August 21, 2009 at 12:42 pm

att_header_logoVerizon was the first major carrier to do it in November of last year, and now AT&T will join the list of carriers requiring data plans for its customers with smart phones. Judging from the nearly 150 comments on the Verizon post, I’m going to take a educated guess you guys won’t like this deal either.

Like Verizon, AT&T will grandfather in old smartphone customers in who still choose to not carry a data plan. But after September 6, any new customer will be required to sign up for one, as well as old customers upgrading their phones.

The reasoning for this is pretty much total crap, and I take this from a copy of an internal memo sent to employees (courtesy Boy Genius Report): “We want our customers to have the best possible experience with their Smartphones … Data plans let customers fully utilize their device, without the worry of bill shock.”

Oh come on, are customers that stupid? If they’re not carrying a data plan, chances are these folks are very cognizant that anytime they use data, they’re gonna get smacked with pretty high a la carte data fees. Let’s just call this for what it is: a rate increase.

Now, I should say again what I said in November, even though it may sound like it contradicts what I just said. If you have a smartphone, you shouldn’t be skimping out anyway. The whole purpose of these devices is the Internet connectivity itself. It’s a waste of money to buy a device like the iPhone or LG Dare, etc. and then not get the data plan with it.

But then again, after reading all your comments over the past nine months, I can see why some would be a little peeved that they’re getting pushed into spending more on their cell phone plans than they may have wanted to.


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Simon Says: had the option not to get a data plan with a smartphone?!

    Wow, in Canada, I am pretty sure its always been like that, although I could be mistaken

  2. AJ Says:

    Well, my question is: What criteria will AT&T use to deem a device a Smartphone? They are already abusing the term. Too bad I re-upped in May. If not, I’d be jumping ship.

  3. mengembalikan jati diri bangsa Says:

    And Apple will pulled Google Voice App, Not AT&T

  4. minispiney Says:

    I have a Blackberry Pearl on T-Mobile, only because it has the UMA/WiFi calling feature., and don’t have a data plan. If I try to do anything that requires data, I just get a page that offers to sell me a data plan, so no charges. One of the reasons I like T-Mobile over the other carriers, they seem to try less hard to milk you for every penny you have, and some things they do like UMA are positively customer friendly!

  5. Tomi Says:

    hey! Several comments on this. First, as a visually impaired/totally blind person, smartphones are the most accessible phones on our markets – with screen readers like Mobile Speak Smartphone and Mobile speak for pocket PCs. This is not really fair. Sighted people can get a regular “dumb” phone and use it, while we the blind are forced into smartphones and thus the data plan.

    I have dial-up here at home, so the data plan is more of a relief – I’m a verizon customer and getting the plan with my new HTC Ozone has helped since I don’t have to be stuck on crappy 28.8 kBPS connections. (my driveway is 1.2 miles long and getting DSL/highspeed would cost $50000 to our landlord which she won’t pay). However, the fact that at&t is joining the “smartphone+data plan required” craze will result in a huge protest sometime in the near future. I can see it now… People marching in front of their main datacenters/business locations. Cmon ppl, do it!

  6. Furious Says:

    “Now, I should say again what I said in November, even though it may sound like it contradicts what I just said. If you have a smartphone, you shouldn’t be skimping out anyway. The whole purpose of these devices is the Internet connectivity itself. It’s a waste of money to buy a device like the iPhone or LG Dare, etc. and then not get the data plan with it.”

    Um, actually it’s not your place, AT&T’s place, or anyone else’s place to tell a person what they can or cannot do with their own property. If I purchase a cell phone (and I buy full-price, or eBay or other third party), it is MY device. It doesn’t belong to AT&T, nor does it belong to anyone else. The “whole purpose” of the device is NOT Internet connectivity. Smartphones have plenty of features that don’t require the data plan. I had a Blackberry 8310 for almost a year and a half on AT&T without a data plan and never once used the browser. It took good photos, it had plenty of apps I used day-to-day that had no need for the data plan, it served as a storage device and its keyboard and UI made texting a pleasure, something that is now impossible with my RAZR V3xx since the BB died, conveniently, only a few weeks ago. Now I can’t use a smartphone on ATT’s network without being upcharged for a service I don’t want and don’t use. It’s just plain WRONG.

    So this argument that “there’s no purpose to a smartphone without data,” is stupid and juvenile. And ATT’s current crop of “messaging” phones, are garbage. They’re no replacement for a BlackBerry and, if you check out ATT’s site, they too are trying to force people to upcharge to more expensive “unlimited” (and they’re not unlimited) texting plans for another $20.00+…

  7. Frustrated Says:

    I totally agree Furious. The BB smartphone fully served my purpose without the data plan. I had the BB Pearl and upgraded BB Curve prior AT&T changing the policy to include the data plan. I recently lost my BB Curve and reported it to AT&T so I can purchase a replacement. Much to my surprise I could buy a replacement without purchasing the data plan. Aah-ha after pushing the AT&T rep, we found a loop hole in the policy. If you previously had a BB w/o data plan and you lost the phone you can replacement it w/o getting the data plan. The downside is that you have pay full price for the phone. Basically, none of these cell phone companies make money off of selling the equipment. The money is made in selling the data plan, thus BB was losing money and that’s why if ATT is going to push the equipment, that have cell it with the data plan.

  8. jim h Says:

    i have to agree with you not all people are so off that they don’t know if they use a data feature that their gonna get charged for it. i personally do cary a data package although i’m sure they gonna try and stick me for more because it is the old plan 15 dollars for unlimited. my mom dosen’t use the internet on her phone her phone recently died and she is gonna have to upgrade we looked at a few but she can’t afford the extrra on her phone bill. she will probaly end up cancelling her service and going back to a track phone. i was going to cancell mine to untill i found out at&t was going to start requiring extra stuff for their phones too

  9. Mike Says:

    Saying “the whole purpose of these devices is internet” is a seriously dumb thing to say. Who wants to surf the net on a 2.5 inch screen? My personal phone is a Dare. I got it b/c it has a camera, video recorder, music player and virtual keyboard. Many more “purposes”. At work I have a Blackberry Storm. I hate the internet on that. It’s too small and too slow.