AT&T has confirmed it will be raising the price of its grandfathered unlimited data plans, apparently in an attempt to avoid network congestion and provide fast, reliable service to all its customers.
Starting February 2016, AT&T customers still on the carrier’s $30 unlimited data plan will have to pay a little bit more — $5 to be exact — to continue subscribing to the plan. AT&T stopped offering unlimited data to new customers in 2010, and this is the first price hike for the plan in seven years. The new $35 price is only applicable for the data portion of the plan. Customers will still have to pay separate fees for their calling and texting plans.
Compared to Verizon, which increased the price for its own unlimited plans by $20, bumping it up to $50, AT&T’s price hike seems modest. Still, it’s a clear sign AT&T wants to get customers off its grandfathered plans and get them to subscribe to one of its pricier plans that cap off data at certain limits.
T-Mobile and Sprint, both known for their aggressive marketing schemes, are starting to come off unlimited plans as well. Both carriers still offer unlimited data plans, but T-Mobile has raised the price of its unlimited data, talk and text plan from $80 to $95 for new customers. Sprint, meanwhile, charges $70 for its own plan offering similar services.
AT&T promises that customers who decide to stay on the unlimited plan will not have their data speeds throttled, at least before they reach the 22 GB speed limit that AT&T earlier announced. In that sense, the data plan is not truly unlimited, as AT&T cuts back to slower data speeds when users reach 22 GB of usage or when they are in a congested area. Previously, AT&T was forced to pay $100 million in fines to the Federal Communications Commission after unlimited data customers complained they were throttled to extremely low speeds during the second half of the month.
Those who are unhappy with the price hike and decide to switch to a new plan will have their early termination fees waived if applicable, as long as they cancel their subscription within 60 days after the price hike. However, customers will still need to pay the outstanding balance on existing device payment plans.