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AT&T announces new ‘limited’ data plans for iPhone and iPad

Melissa Kaplan Jun 2, 2010

You knew somehow it couldn’t last forever: AT&T has unveiled new alternatives to its current unlimited plan for iPhones and iPads, effectively ending the practice by charging customers per data used. The three new plans on the table, available June 7: DataPlus, which charges $15 for 200 MB a month, DataPro, or 2 GB for $25, and Tethering, for the 4G iPhone, which for an additional $20 a month will allow users to hook their laptops up to the smartphones and get WiFi.

For current users not keen on the new data packages: You don’t have to use them. If you already have unlimited data, you can be a “legacy” user and stay on the plan until you decide to leave your contract.

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New users may ask: What if you exceed your data used? Here’s the new payout scale (after the jump):

If you subscribe to the basic DataPlus service and go over your allotted 200 MB, you’ll get another 200 MB for an additional $15. With a 200 MB plan, users can expect to send/receive 1,000 emails with no attachments and 150 e-mails with attachments, view 400 Web pages, post 50 photos on social media sites and watch 20 minutes of streaming video. According to AT&T, 65 percent of current iPhone customers use less than 200 MB of data per month on average.

Similar rules apply to DataPro 2 GB subscribers, only once users go over, they’ll receive an additional 2 GB for only $10 extra. This package will cover about 98 percent of all data users. If you’re in that 2 percent that needs more than 2 GB per month on your smartphone, you may want to invest in a laptop.

CNET tech blogger Mark Hickey breaks down why the new plans may be advantageous to users and might actually save you money, despite the foreboding removal of the “unlimited” label.

On tonight’s Marketplace, we’ll cover the impact the new data plans may have.

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