How long have you been waiting for iPhone tethering? well, if you’re like me you’ve been waiting a long time. To be clear, iPhone tethering was possible (and an included feature) in iPhone OS 3.0 which launched last June (2009). So, don’t confuse this new feature as part of iOS 4, although I am including it in my iOS 4 Tour roundup because it is only now that AT&T has decided to enable the feature. That’s right, carriers the world over have been allowing their iPhone customers to tether their devices for the past year.
Along with the long awaited tethering feature here in the USA, AT&T also recently rolled out new data plans for iPhones and iPads. Gone are the days of unlimited data for $30.00 per month and in are the days of capped data. The new plans rolled out a few weeks ago include a very limited option (capped at 250MB) for $14.99 per month and a “higher” data limit option (capped at 2GB) for $24.99 per month. You may be asking why I’m telling you this – well, if you want to take advantage of iPhone tethering you must give up your unlimited data plan and opt for one of these limited plans. Once you do that, AT&T will still charge you for the privilege of tethering, another $20.00 per month on top of your data plan fees. So, if you are like most people, to tether will cost you $24.99 + $20.00 for a total of $45.00 per month. Even with this, you’re capped at 2GB per month. If you’re about to go over this AT&T will warn you and if you do go over you’ll be zinged $10.00 for each additional 1GB of data usage. [I've never jailbroken before, but MyWi is looking better and better...]
Unlike most gamers I don’t get into the whole social aspect of gaming so when Apple introduced this new addition in iOS 4 I wasn’t all that excited. Game Center is one of the unexpected new features of iOS 4 and is Apple’s entry into the social gaming scene. Game Center will allow gamers to share scores, unlock achievements, network with friends and invite friends to games. To use Game Center you will sign into the service using your iTunes account login. From here you can search and find friends and invite others to play against you (amongst other things). Seems a little odd to me that Apple would enter this scene and I’m sure all of those mobile social startups are not happy about it either. We’ll have to wait and see the effect that Apple’s own Game Center will have on other social gaming platforms such as Open Feint, Crystal, Plus+ and others. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any games that leverage the new Game Center so screen shots of this are well, pretty boring.
There’s so many camera apps in the App Store that have been offering this feature for a while now, so it just seems natural that Apple would include it in the native app. The addition of camera zoom could be argued as the missing camera feature since the iPhone first launched 3 years ago, but it’s here now. To get the zoom slider to show up you must tap the screen. This is a problem because tapping the screen also focuses and meters that spot. So, using the zoom slider is a little “touchy.”
First the bad news: in a news release issued today AT&T announced that it was dropping the unlimited data plans on both the iPad and iPhone in favor of a $25.00/mo plan that caps data at 2GB. Those that currently have the unlimited data plan can opt to keep it or they may change to the cheaper, yet data capped 2GB plan.
The good news of the day (well, partly good news) is that those of us that have been patiently waiting to tether our laptops to our iPhones well, it seems that will be possible this summer with the release of iPhone OS 4. However, in order to tether your iPhone you must be on the limited 2GB per month plan and pay an extra $20.00 per month for the privilege. What does that mean? If you want tethering you must give up your unlimited dataplan and opt for the capped plan limited to 2GB per month. Ouch.
Full press release below:
AT&T Announces New Lower-Priced Wireless Data Plans to Make Mobile Internet More Affordable to More People
Dallas, Texas, June 02, 2010
AT&T*, the U.S. smartphone leader, today introduced new wireless data plans that make it more affordable for more people to enjoy the benefits of the mobile Internet. Customers can pick the new data plan that best meets their needs – either a $15 per month entry plan or a $25 per month plan with 10 times more data. Current smartphone customers are not required to switch to the new plans, but can choose to do so without a contract extension.
“AT&T helps mobilize everything on the Internet – your favorite web sites, TV shows, music, games and social networks. Virtually everything previously done while sitting at a computer can now be done on the go,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “To give more people the opportunity to experience these benefits, we’re breaking free from the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ pricing model and making the mobile Internet more affordable to a greater number of people.”
Each plan includes unlimited access at no additional charge to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S. Customers can also use unlimited Wi-Fi at home, in the office or elsewhere if available. AT&T will also help customers manage their wireless data usage by sending free text messages after customers reach different usage intervals and by providing online tools, including a smartphone app that shows monthly usage information.
The new wireless data plans – including a new tethering option – will be available beginning June 7. Current AT&T voice and texting plans are unchanged.
The new AT&T plans provide large amounts of data to enable people to enjoy their favorite online activities:
DataPlus. Provides 200 megabytes (MB) of data – for example, enough to send/receive 1,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 150 emails with attachments, plus view 400 Web pages, plus post 50 photos on social media sites, plus watch 20 minutes of streaming video – for just $15 per month.** This plan, which can save customers up to 50 percent off their wireless data charges, is designed for people who primarily like to surf the web, send email and use social networking apps. If customers exceed 200 MB in a monthly billing cycle, they will receive an additional 200 MB of data usage for $15 for use in the cycle. Currently, 65 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data per month on average.
DataPro. Provides 2 gigabytes (GB) of data – for example, enough to send/receive 10,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 1,500 emails with attachments, plus view 4,000 Web pages, plus post 500 photos to social media sites, plus watch 200 minutes of streaming video – for $25 per month.** Should a customer exceed 2 GB during a billing cycle, they will receive an additional 1 GB of data for $10 for use in the cycle. Currently, 98 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB of data a month on average.
Tethering. Smartphone customers – including iPhone customers – who choose the DataPro plan have the option to add tethering for an additional $20 per month. Tethering lets customers use their smartphones as a modem to provide a broadband connection for laptop computers, netbooks or other computing devices. Tethering for iPhones will be available when Apple releases iPhone OS 4 this summer.
With the new wireless data plans, pricing for a smartphone voice and data bundle now starts at just $54.99 per month for an individual plan, or $24.99 per month for an additional line on a FamilyTalk plan, $15 per month less than the price of the previous entry level bundle.
For new iPad customers, the $25 per month 2 GB plan will replace the existing $29.99 unlimited plan. iPad customers will continue to pre-pay for their wireless data plan and no contract is required. Existing iPad customers who have the $29.99 per month unlimited plan can keep that plan or switch to the new $25 per month plan with 2 GB of data.
Wi-Fi at 20,000 AT&T Hot Spots
The vast majority of smartphones that AT&T offers have built-in Wi-Fi, which lets the devices automatically switch from the wireless network to a Wi-Fi hotspot without prompting, making Wi-Fi even more convenient and easy to use. This enables customers to use Wi-Fi in the home, office and at public locations where available. Wi-Fi will generally provide consistently fast speeds and does not count against a customer’s monthly data plan usage total. In addition, virtually all AT&T smartphone customers have access at no additional charge to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots in the U.S. Customers can get more information on how to use Wi-Fi and find the location of AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots at www.att.com/wifiaccess.
Monitoring and Managing Usage
To help customers easily check their data usage, AT&T has made the information readily available in a number of ways***:
Customer Text Notifications On Data Usage. When customers begin to approach their monthly usage limit, AT&T will send three text notifications – after they reach 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of the threshold. Customers will also be sent emails if AT&T has their email address.
Data Usage Monitoring. Additionally, customers with iPhones and other select devices can use the free AT&T myWireless application to check data usage. The application is available for download in several smartphone app stores. Also, AT&T customers can call *DATA# from their wireless phone to check their data usage for the current billing period. They receive a free text message with their usage information. Customers can also go online to www.att.com/wireless to see all of their usage information, past and present.
Data Calculator. The easy-to-use online data calculator enables customers to estimate their mobile data usage and get a better sense for which data plan is right for them. It’s located at www.att.com/datacalculator.
Customers can learn more about the new plans online at www.att.com/dataplans, by contacting AT&T customer service at 1-800-331-0500, or by visiting an AT&T retail store.
AT&T expects these new data plans to have minimal revenue impact this year and to not affect previous guidance for 2010.
* AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
** Usage examples are estimates. Individual results will vary based upon customer’s Internet usage patterns.
*** Customers will see their usage reflected in their tools generally within 15 hours or less of actual data usage.
Largest Wi-Fi network claim based on non-municipal company and owned and operated hotspots. An 802.11 b/g enabled device required.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s fastest 3G network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet and voice services. A leader in mobile broadband, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verseSM and AT&T |DIRECTVSM brands. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive are known for their leadership in local search and advertising. In 2010, AT&T again ranked among the 50 Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE® magazine.
Additional information about AT&T Inc. and the products and services provided by AT&T subsidiaries and affiliates is available at http://www.att.com. This AT&T news release and other announcements are available at http://www.att.com/newsroom and as part of an RSS feed at www.att.com/rss. Or follow our news on Twitter at @ATTNews. Find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ATT to discover more about our consumer and wireless services or at www.Facebook.com/ATTSmallBiz to discover more about our small business services.
© 2010 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.
Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Information set forth in this news release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future results is contained in AT&T’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any obligation to update or revise statements contained in this news release based on new information or otherwise. This news release may contain certain non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations between the non-GAAP financial measures and the GAAP financial measures are available on the company’s Web site at www.att.com/investor.relations. Accompanying financial statements follow.