Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kindle owners with ipads: Unlimited iPad-3G has been killed - UPDATE4

See the Mashable story for details of the option that replaces the former Unlimited one.  Essentially, the Unlimited Plan is now 2 gigs max, for $25.  Tethering possible, w/conditions.

The iPhone wireless options are changed as well.

UPDATE 6/3//10 - Original post was dated 6/2/10, 6:19 AM
As the result of information from commenter Jo, showing that AT&T and Apple phone reps didn't even know about the new DataPlus and DataPro rates affecting the iPad as well as the iPhone, this is an update to explain a bit more of this, using our comment-area conversation.

Changed Post-sale data plans from advertising campaign
 First, the perception (and reality) that AT&T is reneging on the Unlimited Plan right after Apple and AT&T *marketed* the iPad with precisely that Unlimited plan isn't good for AT&T or Apple's reputations (AT&T doesn't have much of one to lose lately).

Grandfathering-in existing iPad users of Unlimited 3G Plan
  What AT&T and Apple have done is to bring about a situation in which those who just bought an iPad with 3G cellular wireless capability ($629) and already have it in hand -- along with the $30/mo Unlimited plan before this week's announcement -- will continue to get that Unlimited Plan as long as they continue to pay the $30 per month.  They are  'grandfathered in'  to a plan which has now been discontinued for all others.

  That means once they stop the plan, their only option after that will be to use options from the new plan.

  Of course people paid an added $130 to get an iPad with that capability at all, which is needed to use the monthly 3G data plans.

Recently, some iPad deliveries have been reported to be pushed back to June 7

Those getting their 3G iPads  with delivery date June 7 are not being allowed to order the Unlimited Plan now, before the new data plans go into effect, on June 7 - which can't be coincidental.

  Again, these buyers bought the $629 3G iPads on the basis of much advertising of the Unlimited access feature.  Not allowing receipt of new 3G iPads before June 7 will certainly make it impossible for even those who ordered recently, to get into the now 'old' $30 plan.

Reasonable expectations for the data plans
One problem is that AT&T and Apple are both saying that 98% of iPhone users did not use 2 gigs per month anyway, but it should be clear to anyone who notices the differences between the iPhone and the iPad,  that the iPad is another animal altogether when it comes to the type of data tranfers expected and that the iPad  was marketed not for making phone calls! and checking a few small YouTube videos but for heavy duty web browsing in data chunks far larger than used for iPhones and is being bought with the expectation of enjoying good-definition, large VIDEO streams.

  Look at all the apps marketed, such as HULU, ABC video and Netflix. 

UPDATE2a - Excellent summation of this aspect from commenter at David Pogue's NYT area in an article about impact of new 3G plans on iPhone but not iPad.

A recommendation will be to use the large data-involved features at home or at the office or at a hotspot where you can sit for a good while, and leave the 3G access for less challenging content.  Also, you might want to buy the larger storage capability (even if initially more expensive), 64M (or at the least the 32M model), and download videos for watching when you're away from WiFi spots.

  The new level-1 plan (BasicPlus) would offer 200 megs of 3G data for $15/mo. (instead of the advertised 250 megs of data for $15), and the new level-2 plan (BasicPro) allows users up to 2 gigs/mo. of 3G wireless data for $25/mo.

  It's said that one full-sized video + normal email and web-browsing on a 10" screen can use up more than the 200 megs quickly well before a month (or week) is done, even with compressed versions of the video.

 An long HD movie can use well over 1 gig.  But additional gigs needed after the 2-gig cap is reached will be "only" $10 per added gig, they say.

  I think this plan switch, in between sale and delivery, is somewhat problematical, but that could just be me -- especially when the next set of iPads doesn't arrive until June 7, the date these plans go into effect.  Those who are 'grandfathered in' got their 3G iPads very early and purchased the Unlimited 3G plan for their iPads.

UPDATE3 - June 4, PC World reports June 04, 2010 12:30 PM, that those ordering their iPads before June 7 would be eligible to the old Unlimited plan.  PC World adds, "including, it would seem, those who had merely ordered but not received the device."

UPDATE4 - A more detailed, firm story is at the New York times.
' On Friday, a company spokesman said the decision had been made. “AT&T will honor the $29.99 unlimited data pricing for customers who order iPad by June 7,” he said.

So now consumers have until 11:59 p.m. on June 6, just three days from now, to order an iPad with 3G capability and sign up for the unlimited plan when they receive it. '
That's definitive, I'd say.

Note:  iPad owners who use only the Home/Office/Hotspot WiFi networks and who don't plan to use the 3G cellular type access anywhere for large video streams or heavy web-browsing on complex sites won't be as affected by the changes.

New Tethering Plan
The new 'tethered' plans have also received, appropriately, a lot of column space but almost always with no explanations of what that means for those who haven't read about that feature.  A well-worded, straightforward explanation is at
' "Tethering" is the use of your cell phone -- or other Internet-enabled mobile device -- as a modem for another device, usually a notebook or PDA [or, say, an iPad].  The connection is made either with a cable (USB or serial) or wirelessly through bluetooth...

Benefits of Tethering, usually
Tethering enables users to go online from their laptops or PDAs in situations where there's no other means of Internet access: when there's no wi-fi hotspot around, for example, or your cable modem goes on the fritz, or you're on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and need an online map quick ... '

The site goes on to explain that this can be quite a cost-saver if you're already paying for data service on your cell phone and if your cellular provider doesn't require any extra fees for using your cell phone as a modem for devices like a laptop or an iPad.

 In that scenario you wouldn't have to pay for separate mobile broadband service or buy additional hardware (such as a Novetel Mifi 2200 unit described in this blog earlier and available at Amazon for $0.01 when with a compatible service plan, which automatically connects to Verizon Wireless Mobile Broadband service to give 3G access for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices at the same time.  NY Times's David Pogue was high on it in his review).

AT&T charges $20 extra for the tethering capability, however.
This is causing resentment seen in comments to online news areas from customers who feel they are already paying for plans with limits and merely sharing that limited access with two of their own devices.

Fly in the ointment on tethering availability
If you got the iPad early enough to already have in place the now-ended plan for Unlimited 3G access, you are not eligible to add the tethering plan even for the additional $20 per month.

For good detail on the plans and the current situation, see
San Jose Mercury, Engadget, and ZDNet's more positive reaction.

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  1. LOVE your blog... and depend on it to keep me updated on my Kindle opportunities. About the iPad unlimited data plan biting the dust...
    I checked with Apple and ATT both... both said the new data plans were for the smart phones ONLY and did not include the iPads. The ATT website describing the new data plans did not mention iPads... though I sure have read about it at several other websites. Anyway, the official word from ATT and Apple is unlimited $29.99 data plan still in effect. Sure hope they are right.

  2. Jo,
    Yes, there were about 50 articles saying this affected the iPad as well as the iPhone and did paragraphs on both, how each was affected.

    Do you know who you spoke to at the companies? Depts? I'll keep watching the news to see if Apple and AT&T have come out with a response. Just got back here and haven't had time to check yet.

    Thanks for the alert!

  3. Sigh... I stand corrected. I should have known better. I don't know why I would be surprised that AT&T reps do not know what their own company is doing, but apparently Assoc. Press had to tell them. If you check the AT&T newsroom, it definitely says that iPad is included in the data plan changes. Two phone calls to Apple... with 2 different 3rd party conference connections to AT&T... two different sets of information, 4 hours apart.
    Geesch... the iPad 3G is not even in the retail stores yet and At&T is renigging. At&T says the new pricing is more in line with what customers want and will be cheaper for most.... yeah right. Note that Apple has not changed their website.

  4. Jo,
    No, I like that you checked it out, and there is SOME truth to the belief of the people who answered you.

    As you say, the perception (and reality) that AT&T is reneging on the Unlimited Plan right after Apple and AT&T *marketed* the iPad with precisely the Unlimited plan would be extremely bad and possibly the subject of action on the part of some, and not good for Apple's rep either (AT&T does not have much of one to lose these days).

    What they did, and I will include this in the body of the update later, thanks to your note, is leave it so that if anyone bought an iPad with 3G and got on the $30/mo plan, they will continue to get the Unlimited Plan as long as they continue to pay the $30.

    That means once they stop the plan, their only option after that will be to use options from the new plan.

    Of course people paid an extra $130 to get an iPad with that capability at all, needed to use the monthly 3G data plan.

    One problem is that they mention iPhone users did not use 2 gigs per month anyway, but the iPad is another animal and it is marketed not for making phone calls! but for heavy duty web browsing and good-definition, large VIDEO. Look at all the apps like HULU and ABC video.

    It's said that one video + normal email and web-browsing can use up the 250 megs quickly well before a month is done -- so the new 200 meg plan for $15 (as opposed to the original 250 megs for $15, if the iPad users use the same 'DataPlus' plan)) is less offered than they just recently advertised in order to get people interested in that 3G iPad and wireless plan for this wholly new iPad model.

    I think that's somewhat troublesome but that's just me -- especially when the next set of iPads doesn't arrive until June 7, the date these plans go into effect - so I suppose those who are 'grandfathered in' got their 3G iPads early or pre-purchased the 3G for the coming iPads.

    A HD movie will often use well over 1 gig, by the way. But additional gigs will be "only" $10 per...

  5. Hi again... According to Apple and AT&T, only existing iPad customers who are already signed up for the unlimited plan, can hold onto that unlimited plan. The reasoning is that you have to sign up for a data plan through the iPad... can a 3G iPad customer become an existing customer who already has the unlimited plan, IF the 3G iPads are not in our hands yet? When I talked with the AT&T reps, they couldn't believe that I would need more than 2GB per month... actually assured me that it would be very unlikely I would use that much... clearly they are equating the needs of the iPhone to the potential needs of the iPad.
    Why is Mr. Jobs allowing this runaround?

  6. PPS... I tried to purchase the unlimited plan... that was the intention of my original phone call. AT&T would not allow me to pre-purchase... said it couldn't be done because it has to be purchased through the iPad itself and not over the phone. Very frustrating.



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