AT&T to Require Unlimited Data Package for Apple iPhone

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(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 — 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.


Anders - Yes, that is a temporary concern, but devices like iPhones will make open city-wide wifi more common, more quickly. I spend 90% of my life in open zones, only when driving would I be out of range, which is probably a good thing :) Things like WiMax are just around the corner, so it's not too far fetched to see within 2-4 years most modern people will be in a open wifi zone... then cell companies will no longer be needed.

OS11 - What about those of us who need their phone to work when they aren't near a WiFi hotspot?

Umm, as in, 95% of the time?

/you /suck /i /phone/

Margin issue fixed.

Sorry, but screw AT&T there will be no need to sign up for a "contract" to use the iPhone. Just go to an Apple Store and buy one and you are home free. There is NO NEED for a "cell" service with this phone.

Hackers will pour over this phone more than even the AppleTV and Skype will be up and running within weeks.

The iPhone spells the END of the CELL industry, the SCAM industry. Don't ever pay a cingle cent to Cingular.

The iPhone has pure 802.11g, so if you want full access to your email, the web, contacts, .Mac, voice mail via OvoLabs, etc just connect on a FREE 802.11 network and totally bypass what AT&T is trying to rope you into.

The entire Apple Company started because of FREE World Wide Phone Calls, the iPhone is the full circle "dream".

Stand and resist, NEVER - EVER pay AT&T a cingle cent to run YOUR iPhone.

Wake up people, the iPhone is the first FREE PHONE for the masses!

-

@OS11

I don't know where to start. I suspect you are either very immature or very intelletually challanged.
I am probably a little older, but I remember when we had to go somewhere to make a phone call. Someone's house, a pay phone, a phone at a business. You are suggesting we go back to this. The cell phone allowed us to make and take phone calls virtually anywhere. Yes, I get that you wouldn't have to pay for cell service if you use WiFi only, but then you need to be somewhere that provides free WiFi. Anywhere else you are, you will be out of touch. Go ahead. Try it and get back to me.

Oh wait. I'm sorry, maybe you are a shut in and can not leave your house. If so, I apologize and your method should work just fine for you. But then again, so would a land line.

Looks fine to me in Firefox. And the page is centered, not left-aligned. Maybe you have an old version of Firefox?

Thanks for the correction, wot_fan.

There is not a left-hand margin if your window is not wide. It has nothing to do with the version of Firefox - it is whether you have your window stretched wide. There should be some padding so that this doesn't happen. Mine goes to no left margin when the window is 996 pixels wide. The site should breakdown gracefully. It would be nice if there was some kind of enforced padding on the left side.

Could you revamp your web page? There is no left-hand margin in Firefox-- the text is right against the left edge of the window and it's much harder to read!

I plan on getting an iPhone the day it is released. The only thing that could prevent this is if the data plan is too expensive.

BTW, the article says "Depending on the device, current Cingular/AT&T Wireless unlimited data plans range from $29.99 to $79.99." This is not entirely true. I currently have an unlimited plan for my smartphone (I think it is called MediaNet) for $19.99.

This is definitely a smart move for most customers to make. Most people who opt for restricted data plans end up going over their limit and costing themselves a lot of money.

Oh, AT&T better not screw everything up by getting greedy.

I got off the phone with a guy from a Pittsburgh area att store, and he said that the plan could charge anywhere from $9.99 way restricted to $49.99 for unlimited. He unlimited is worthless unless your not going to be anywhere that doesn't have wi-fi near or close by which is practially impossible even in a neighborhood. He also suggested to me that if you want to get one that you order it online the day it comes out, because the stores will only have anywhere from 20-40 phones.

I also just read the comment at the top. Good idea, problem is if you buy it from apple they are going to sell you a plan, and they will make sure your an att customer.

I'm confused about how the dataplan works. If I'm accessing the internet through wifi, even if it's not AT&T's wifi, and I have a "slow" dataplan, is there software in the iPhone that is going to throttle my transfer rate, or is that only my data rate over AT&T networks?

Anybody with dataplans wifi devies care to shed some light on this issue?

I personally think the use of private (or public, in the case of some cities) wifi networks by devices capable of using them should be free, and not even require a plan. Of course, this isn't the case because of money-grubbing crippleware installed on these devices. But this SHOULD be the case.

I'd be surprised to hear that AT&T would exert any control whatsoever on WiFi usage.

Then again, I've never used a WiFi-capable device on AT&T's network. I'd be interested to hear more about this as well.