AT&T Closes All-You-Can-Eat Data Buffet

New iPhone and iPad customers face tolls for heavy use

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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New iPhone and iPad customers are going to get hit in the wallet if they use data-heavy applications like YouTube over AT&T's 3G network.

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Facing complaints over the quality of its data network and voice service, AT&T has decided to no longer offer unlimited data plans for cellular phone customers.

Current customers with unlimited data plans will be grandfathered in, so if you already have a service contact for your iPhone or iPad 3G, you'll still get to enjoy worry-free browsing.

But new customers will be offered either a 200 megabyte or two gigabyte plan, for $15 and $25 a month, respectively. If they ignore AT&T's warnings sent via text and exceed their quote, they'll pay more -- $15 for another 200 megabytes on the smaller plan, $10 for an extra gigabyte on the larger plan.

The decision comes as a bit of a surprise, as AT&T is set to introduce "tethering" to connect mobile devices to the wireless network, such as using an iPhone data connection to surf the Web on a laptop.

Additionally, Apple is expected to release a new version of the iPhone, and leaked prototypes indicate that a user-facing camera could be used for such data-heavy applications such as live video chat.

Not to mention that downloading two Disney movies from the iTunes store to an iPad for keeping the kids happy on a long road trip, and you've probably used up your quota for the month.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs addressed a question from the audience about AT&T's network during an interview at the All Things D conference on Tuesday, saying that credible sources have told him that "things in general, when they start to fix them, get worse before they get better."

"If you believe that, things should be getting a lot better soon," Jobs continued, saying that he believed it. "We'll see."

Jackson West realizes that you can use wifi to download stuff, but chances are AT&T DSL service will be metered sooner rather than later, too.

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