AT&T hikes prices for some plans, but raises data caps

SHARE AT&T hikes prices for some plans, but raises data caps
at_t_unlimited_data_newm_3.jpg

AT&T is joining Verizon in raising the prices of some of its data plans. | AP file photo

NEW YORK — AT&T is joining Verizon in raising the prices of some of its data plans.

As with Verizon, AT&T is going to great lengths to avoid calling the changes a price hike, as the higher prices come with more data, reducing the cost per gigabyte for many customers. Indeed many customers will benefit, and those who won’t can keep their existing plans.

The price increase underscores how wireless companies see data as a way to boost revenue. Most plans now come with unlimited calls and texts.

The new rates take effect Sunday. AT&T customers who want to keep their existing plans don’t need to do anything. They can still add lines to their account, but won’t be able to change data levels without switching to the new rates.

AT&T’s efforts to simplify its plans include standardizing the “access charge” that customers pay on top of data charges. That’s the voice and text portion of the monthly service bill. Now, customers will pay $20 a month per line, unless they still have a discounted phone under two-year contracts, which wireless companies are phasing out. Before, the access charge was $25 for smaller data plans and $15 for larger ones.

Customers on larger data plans will now pay more for access, but will get comparable or greater reductions in the data rates. In fact, families on plans of 20 gigabytes or more will likely see signification reductions in their phone bills.

That’s not the case with smaller plans, as phone companies try to push customers into larger tiers to boost revenue. Those on smaller data plans will generally pay $10 a month more for data, offset by a $5-per-line reduction in the access charge. That’s a net increase of $5 for individuals, though those prices come with at least 20 percent more data.

But there’s one case where customers get less. For $30, customers used to get 2 gigabytes of data. Now, that price comes with 1 gigabyte. Those customers will still benefit from the $5-per-line reduction.

Regardless of the data level, Dallas-based AT&T Inc. is eliminating charges for exceeding monthly data caps, at least for those who do switch to the new rates. The charge was typically $15 per gigabyte over. Now, AT&T will slow down speeds instead after the cap is reached. The slower speeds will be fine for email and basic status updates on Facebook, but photos will be difficult and streaming video nearly impossible.

Verizon also eliminated charges for exceeding caps when it raised prices last month, though for those on smaller data plans, customers have to pay a $5 a month “safety” fee to avoid such charges. There’s no extra fee with AT&T. Sprint and T-Mobile also slow down speeds instead of charging for exceeding caps, without imposing any safety fee.

Last year, T-Mobile raised its rates as well, while calling them greater values with more data.

The Latest
President Joe Biden and Donald Trump have bypassed the commission and agreed to debates organized directly by media outlets, without in-studio audiences. The head of the National Urban League explains why that’s better for our democracy.
MLB
Ruth never clarified if he really called his shot, or was actually taunting the Cubs dugout.
The powers that be in Boston, despite representing a metropolis founded in 1630, haven’t managed to run the train all the way to the airport. It stops 1,000 yards away.
As befits May, all forms of fishing are going and so are the cicadas to lead this sprawling raw-file Midwest Fishing Report.
The children, all of whom suffered ‘minor injuries’ were taken to area hospitals after the wreck, which happened at 8:35 a.m. in Will County.