AT&T to Require Unlimited Data Package for Apple iPhone
(Updated: June 26th 2007) Full iPhone service plan details available here.
Another member of the press, this time it was Seattle Times' Brier Dudley, has interviewed another miscellaneous AT&T executive, AT&T president of national distribution, Glen Lurie, about the iPhone. Again, the interview revealed more of nothing than of something. In fact, besides hyping Apple's forthcoming device or providing already well established information - Lurie offered only one item of interest to prospective iPhone customers.
According to Lurie, one of the winning points for AT&T in regards to iPhone sales is that AT&T will likely be requiring iPhone owners to subscribe to an unlimited data plan. Lurie offered no indication, however, on how much the unlimited iPhone data plan would cost. Depending on the device, current Cingular/AT&T Wireless unlimited data plans range from $19.99 to $79.99. Lurie did leave the door open for the possibility of iPhone owners being able to own the phone without an unlimited data plan if they chose to live without use of the supposedly revolutionary iPhone version of Apple's Safari web browser. Lurie said,
"people are going to be asked to have an unlimited package â€” people are going to have to have a package with us to browse."
The quote points towards the likelihood that AT&T will be requiring an unlimited plan for those who want to access the internet from their iPhone via AT&T's EDGE network, as opposed to simply recommending such. This is a logical move from AT&T considering the wealth of net-heavy applications suggested to be available on the iPhone, thus avoiding customer complaints from those who get much less than expected from limited data plans.
The main question on our minds is the cost of the iPhone data plan, which Lurie didn't reveal. A reasonably priced unlimited data plan at around $30, rates similar to AT&T's existing MediaMax plans, would be beneficial to most iPhone customers by offering a valuable service at a fair rate and at the same time protecting them from overage charges which would likely result on a bandwidth-restricted plan. However, if AT&T decides to gouge iPhone owners with a data plan upwards of $50 dollars, this could easily be seen as underhanded or unfair, especially for the inaugural iPhone's EDGE-only, non-HSDPA connectivity. Hopefully Apple has ensured, as part of their agreement with AT&T, that hefty plan pricing won't scare off prospective buyers.
Otherwise, as already mentioned, the Lurie interview provided little to sink one's teeth into. Lurie restated AT&T's commitment to not answering whether they will subsidize the price of the iPhone, offered a clumsy justification for the iPhone's price (which we do not take particular issue with anyway), and talked about how groovy Apple and Steve Jobs were. Gee, thanks Glen.