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AT&T to demand data plans on all smartphones

updated 02:45 pm EDT, Fri August 21, 2009

ATT Needs Data on SPhones

A leaked memo surfacing today and confirmed by AT&T for Electronista has revealed the company will soon require that every smartphone be attached to a data plan. The message obtained by BGR warns that any new or upgrade customer moving to an AT&T-supplied smartphone from September 6th onwards will need to have the $30 smartphone data plan alongside their voice plan, regardless of the manufacturer or the cost of the device. Smartphones bought unlocked outside of AT&T, like the Nokia N97, are exempted from the rule, as are those who already have smartphones on the network and no intention to upgrade.

A question-and-answer section in the message justifies the requirement by claiming that the move would give users a more "predictable bill" by avoiding pay-per-use data rates and unintentional surprises each month. When contacted, a company spokesman added that the requirement was technically in the company's existing terms of service and that, as the "vast majority" of smartphone users on AT&T already have a plan, the impact should be relatively minimal.

It's commonly believed that the move is part of a wider plan to foster added growth in AT&T's data revenues, which have risen rapidly ever since the iPhone launched on its network. The shift is expected to raise the prices for some smartphone customers who had been using either the $20 "feature phone" plan or none at all, but a handful of phones like the iPhone 3G and 3GS have always required a smartphone plan from the outset.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jondesu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not gonna happen

    That one's gonna bite them in the... yeah. Can't see that being taken well. As they said, a lot of smartphone users already have data plans, but I see no reason they should be forced to.

  1. Hurley42

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Time to hack

    One more good reason to hack my iPhone once my contract is over....

  1. macnixer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @Hurley42 You mean unlock

    Hacking your phone is adding features that are not intended by the OEM.

    Secondly you should not need to use the unlocking tools since you have completed the contract. AT&T should provide you the unlock code since you are now the owner of the device. Prior to completion of the contract you are a lessee.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Oh boy...

    Erica Sadun's about ready to piss in her tampon upon these news.

    Countdown to another unjustified Sadun rant on sites, comng up ... 10 .... 9 .... 8 .... 7 ...

  1. luckyday

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Nah, I don't think you are right about being a lessee during your contract. You are confusing a subsidy with a lease. If it were leased, and you stopped paying, the provider would take the phone back. AT&T or Rogers, et al. will never take your phone back. Why not? Because you own it. Rather, they subsidized your phone, and in return had you sign a contract that is worth more to them than the amount of the subsidy. Therefore, if you stop paying, or try and cancel your account prematurely, you will be penalized under the terms of that agreement (i.e. if you cancel, a $100 a year termination fee for every year remaining on your contract).

    (An easy way you can tell its not a lease = you can sell it with out telling anyone or paying out the balance)

    Nice try with the legal jargon though.

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