As we predicted in the report we released yesterday, it seems like wireless consumers better get used to paying more for the data they use. While we haven’t fully broken down the new data plans announced by AT&T Wednesday, there are a few clear caveats that aren’t necessarily good news for end-users:
You’ll need to learn how many bits you’re using. While AT&T is to be commended for altering the previous over-use penalties that could sometimes result in outrageous wireless bills for simple roaming mistakes, the new lower data caps makes it likely that more folks will bump up into the high end of their plans sometime, despite Ma Bell’s claims that 98 percent of its wireless users consume 2 GB per month or less of data. Think that total is going to go down, or up, as more smartphones and iPads get connected? We think it’s going up rapidly.
You’ll need to do a better job of predicting where and when you may want faster services. As we explain in our report about the Mobile Data Explosion, the new networks coming online now and in the next few years won’t allow the kind of simple roaming that cell phone users now enjoy for voice services. Since services like Clearwire’s WiMAX, Verizon’s planned Long Term Evolution (LTE) and AT&T’s HSPA+ are all different and will be in different cities, users will have to figure out beforehand where they will be when they want faster services.