Why Are You Still Paying for Unlimited Data?


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Pretty much since the beginning of time, I’ve had an unlimited data plan on my iPhones. That feature costs me about thirty bucks each month. I also have an unlimited plan on my iPad 3G, which costs another thirty smackers. You do the math – that’s sixty dollars each month, folks. There has to be a better solution, right?

I killed off my no-subscription-needed iPad plan. I’m going to enabling tethering via my iPhone. That plan will cost me $45.00 per month. Instead of playing $60.00 each month for two separate services, I am attempting to find a new solution that will work better for me.

I took a good look at my usage models on both devices. I hit 4 to 5GB of data combined over the course of several months. It just makes sense to pay for 4GB per month, right? The math shows that there’s just no way I should ever hit that cap.

Theoretically, I’m saving fifteen bucks each month. Keep in mind, if you switch from your old unlimited AT&T plan to a usage-based plan, you will not be able to go back – ever. It took me a moment to click that button. I know I’m saving money, but what if I do end up needing that data later? That’s something that each of you will have to consider before making this same choice.

Isn’t this a geek’s worst nightmare – losing unlimited data? But think about it for a moment… do you honestly NEED an unlimited plan? Why are you paying for that which you never use? Are you throwing your money out the window at the moment just in case you might one day need to utilize more than 4GB in any one month?

I was able to turn on the Personal Hot Spot instantly upon enabling it on my account. It was very simple to flip on and even easier to connect with. Within a matter of seconds, I was surfing the web on the iPad by using my iPhone 4.

Yes, it was slightly depressing to get rid of my unlimited plan. However, it is very cool to know I now have a Personal Hot Spot anywhere I may go.

49 thoughts on “Why Are You Still Paying for Unlimited Data?”

  1. I’m still paying for unlimited data because I can tether for free with my Nexus S. It was great being able to tether two laptops too it when my wife and I were on a trip and had a layover. Unfortunately I can’t expect this to last forever, now with T-mobile likely being gobbled up by AT&T.

    1. I think the days of unlimited data are dwindling. That said, I also believe that caps will continue to be realistic. AT&T recently raised the monthly cap to 4 gigs – and I’m guessing that’ll one day get raised to 8 gigs, 16 gigs, 32 gigs, etc.

  2. 1) what if you don’t have an iPad
    2) what if you just jailbreak your iPhone and tether with it — if it’s legal to jailbreak, is it also legal or quasi-legal to use the unlimited data that you pay for via a jailbroken tether setup?

    1. (1) Even if you don’t have an iPad, you might have other devices that may want to get online. Like, say, a laptop or a friend’s computer? (2) It’s legal to jailbreak, but AT&T has recently sent out a flurry of notices to people who have been tethering their iPhones in an unofficial capacity.

  3. I’ve recently purchased the HTC Thunderbolt on verizon with an unlimited data plan, for $30/month of course. Considering I’m not being charged extra for 4G LTE, and Thunderbolt users are able to use the Mobile hotspot feature for free until the 15th of may ($20/mo thereafter, which I’ll probably pay), I cant imagine not having an unlimited data plan. Yet, we all know of the talks verizon has had of cutting the unlimited plans. In an ideal world they would offer tiered plans as well as the unlimited 3g/4g without raising the price. I’m not a ‘data hog’ but, like you said, it’s comforting to have the unlimited plan.

  4. This article has set my mind a-churning, because I plan to get a Verizon iPhone before they discontinue unlimited data plans like AT&T did. The prices for Verizon are different, though. Instead of $45, it’s:

    $49.99 for unlimited data on iPhone and 2GB on hotspot

    additional data: $20 per GB for hotspot

    Also:

    “Please note: When using 3G Mobile Hotspot, all data (including data accessed on the iPhone) will count against your 2GB monthly allowance.”

    Is that caveat the case with AT&T too?

    It sounds like the Verizon deal isn’t as good, and that I should stick with Verizon’s $29.95 unlimited (no hotspot) plan…?

    1. Personally, I’d rather be on AT&T – I’d go nuts if I wasn’t able to be on a call and access the Internet at the same time. Believe it or not, I do this all the time. Just last night with my brother, as a matter of fact (he sent proofs as PDFs and wanted me to check ’em).

      1. That issue is a slight concern, but it makes sense for me to stick Verizon, for several reasons. Apparently, you can do data and voice in a wifi zone on Verizon, but it sounds like it would work clunkily. Anyone hear who switched from AT&T to Verizon and misses the feature?

        1. You probably wouldn’t miss this feature until you really, really needed it. πŸ™‚ A Verizon iPhone is only a clear winner if you’re already with Verizon.

          1. Yes, I’m with Verizon, and most of the people I deal with are also. I don’t want to give up the free minutes with them. Then again, AT&T has rollover minutes… I’ll get the Verizon iPhone for now. Now that AT&T has T-Mobile, maybe their service will improve and I’ll eventually move to AT&T when I upgrade to iPhone 5 or something.

    2. I just reread this: “Please note: When using 3G Mobile Hotspot, all data (including data accessed on the iPhone) will count against your 2GB monthly allowance.” Does this make sense? The $49.99 plan offers “unlimited on iPhone, 2GB on 3G Mobile Hotspot.” If it’s unlimited on the iPhone, how can “data accessed on the iPhone” count against the “2GB monthly allowance” on the hotspot???? What?

  5. streaming netflix. i don’t know how much data they suck up, but i will not leave my unlimited plan just because i love netflix 2 much.

    1. Yeah, I guess I don’t stream Netflix (or video) frequently enough over 3G. Usually that’s just WiFi, if only for performance reasons. I’d be curious to know how much data is consumed, on average, for movies streamed over 3G.

  6. I have to admit you have me thinking about this. I’m also “scared” to give up my unlimited plan even though I’m positive I don’t come anywhere near a monthly 4GB cap.

    I was also in a situation where I needed to use MyWi for about a week. I haven’t gotten any nasty letters yet, but I’m pretty sure they were throttling my bandwidth by the end of the week. I was experiencing a noticeable slowdown in speeds.

  7. Ahhh…the best of both worlds. I have kept my unlimited on ATT with my iPhone, and use a Verizon MiFi for the iPad (and my MB Pro, if the cable goes out). Yes, it’s another gadget to carry, but it’s small and easy to deal with. That way, I get good coverage wherever I travel. Thirty bucks to ATT and $35 to Verizon for 3 GB, which is way more than I use with the iPad.

    1. I thought about going with the MiFi when a LTE version is available. When that happens, I’ll likely drop my 4GB plan to 2GB, but wind up spending more money (for, admittedly, a faster network experience). Problem is that I’d have to carry several devices with me, which isn’t always practical. I’d hate to leave something at home!

  8. I had unlimited data on my iPhone since 2009. I recently gave that up for a 2GB plan to save $5 a month. So far, I have not reached anywhere near the 2GB cap as of yet. But I don’t want to risk going lower to 200MB and get slapped with data overages out the butt. Besides, most of the places I go like college, Starbucks, and home among other places have free wifi for me to use. Even Bryant Park and Times Square have wifi now. Even using the 3G on the busride is not enough to reach the cap. When they get moble service in the subway underground that will be a different story altogether! And I know video streaming like Youtube and Netflix suck over 3G so I avoid it until I get to wifi.

  9. The reason why people would buy an unlimited plan, barring any unique incentives to do so, is not necessarily that they could go over quota but that the defacto penalties for doing so are rather harsh.

    What would be a good plan would be that which charges a fixed rate per a certain amount of data transfer (such as 1 cent per 5 megabytes) as you go for the month rather than having a monthly cap, especially if the remainder of your cap that hasn’t been used by the end of the month will not roll over into the next billing period like they would for cellular phone minutes.

    1. I’ve yet to be disappointed with AT&T’s customer service when it comes to accidental overages. That’s just been my experience, although I haven’t faced it with data as some people may have. The average user shouldn’t have much to worry about, but (of course) watching and resetting their iPhone data usage meter every month would be a good start.

      1. My understanding is on the $15 plan you have to acknowledge/approve an additional $15 in a given month if you exceed the 250mb limit. On the 2gb plan it will auto-charge if you exceed your usage… But it’s less likely to happen because of the larger amount of data.

      2. My understanding is on the $15 plan you have to acknowledge/approve an additional $15 in a given month if you exceed the 250mb limit. On the 2gb plan it will auto-charge if you exceed your usage… But it’s less likely to happen because of the larger amount of data.

  10. I think going for an unlimited data plan is a necessity for geeks and freelancers. But if you think you are paying to much with something you do not really use, this might be another case. My suggestion is to see how many gigabytes you are using for a month and depend on that if you still need an unlimited plan.

  11. Call me crazy but why wouldn’t you use Sprint? EVO comes with unlimited data included in the plan (79.99 include unlimited mobile calling, true unlimited data with no caps). I added the hotspot service for $29.99, and can connect up to 8 devices to use the unlimited pipe (laptop, iPad, WiFi camera). The best part is that Android is way better than the iPhone, way better.

    1. I really want to like Android, I really do, but I can’t. It just SUCKS. webOS seems to be alright though.

    2. I really want to like Android, I really do, but I can’t. It just SUCKS. webOS seems to be alright though.

    3. I really want to like Android, I really do, but I can’t. It just SUCKS. webOS seems to be alright though.

  12. I’ll stick with unlimited for as long as VZW allows me to keep it. I worked tech support at vzw a couple years back and can still remember hearing those screams of rage when the customer found out that their kid had left guitar hero running on their phone resulting in a 4-digit balance due.

    I have unlimited Blackberry internet usage on both our berries because its currently the only option. When I get my Blackberry Playbook, I’ll primarily use wi-fi for my internet usage on the tablet. But, in the rare occasion that I don’t have a hot spot available, vzw offers a 24 hour unlimited usage option for tethering. πŸ™‚

  13. Yes ,I have had veizon unlimited on my computer since 2002 There is too much I use it for and 5 GB will not cover what I use about every 3rd month or so

  14. Ok Chris here it goes…. I am in a constant battle with myself over data plans! I am the family “cell phone coordinator” – a title I gave myself – because I straddle 3 generations of users! My parents – who are phone users almost exclusively, myself – a proficient iPhone user & my 2 early 20’s sons, who are of the texting mega data usage generation! I am constantly reviewing everyone’s usage & adjusting plans accordingly. Every time I get to how many GBs – unlimited or 4…????? If you cut it down & someone goes over….??? the agent on the phone says they haven’t come close to 4 EVER….. I waffle & stress & …… AAArrrrgggggg what should I do – is $10 really that big? Why is it so hard & SCARY? A bit of good news… on my separate plan (they have a family plan) my unlimited is grandfathered in even though I pay the 4GB price…. I don’t know why & don’t care – YAY! But what’s a family cell phone coordinator to do…?

  15. Little late to this party but debating on dropping my unlimited to gain tethering. Now that you have been switched for awhile, do you regret your decision at all.

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