Are you willing to give up unlimited data for a Personal Hotspot?

Although I know it's iPad 2 day (more on that to come), let's not forget that Apple released iOS 4.3 this week for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. One of the most compelling features for iPhone users is the Personal Hotspot feature (finally!). However, use of this feature on AT&T comes at high price. I'm not talking about the monthly charge as much as I am the fact that original iPhone users have to make a choice if they are thinking about using it. Prior to the iPhone 4 iPhone users on AT&T have enjoyed unlimited 3G data for a single monthly charge. AT&T grandfathered this plan for people upgrading to the iPhone 4. In June 2010 AT&T discontinued the unlimited data plans for NEW iPhone/Smartphone customers. While the new plans offer a lower monthly charge for less data, the highest plan is capped at 2GBs/month. If you go over, you pay!


Unlimited Data or Personal Hotspot?

In order to take advantage of the new Personal Hotspot feature that allows you to connect your Laptop, WiFi iPad or other WiFi devices to your iPhone wirelessly to share your iPhone's 3G data connection, you have to switch to the newer Data Pro plan ($25/month for 2GB of data) AND you have to ADD a tethering plan ($20/month) for a total of $45/month. What sucks the most about this is that the extra $20/month doesn't get you any more data! It's a "just because we can" charge. CORRECTION: The New DataPro tethering plan gives your 4GB total per month. Of course if you use the Personal Hotspot feature you'll likely hit that 4GBs faster and then have to start paying for additional data. On the plus side you can choose to turn this feature on or off on your account as needed. If you know you're going on a trip and want to use it, you can turn it on and then turn it off for the following month. Either way, you still have to give up your Unlimited Data Plan to use it.



Your choice of course is to not switch. Besides that option, you can weigh the cost of a data card or the MiFi if you're going to be a heavy user. Lastly since Jailbreaking your iPhone is legal, you could use a Jailbroken App that allows you to turn your iPhone into a personal hotspot without switching plans (you may be violating AT&T's rules by doing this and I'm not telling you to do so. You would be doing this AT YOUR OWN RISK and risk to your Apple Warranty). Verizon is already rumored to be dropping their iPhone unlimited plans soon too!

For now and as long as it's allowed I'll be sticking with my Unlimited Plan! 


AT&T and Verizon you really need to rethink "data".

15 Replies to “Are you willing to give up unlimited data for a Personal Hotspot?”

  1. You actually get 2GB with the tethering option now in addition to the 2GB in the DataPlus. It’s called the DataPlus 4GB plan. So, while it stinks giving up the unlimited plan, at least they’ve up towards being a little bit more fair (while still not what I’d like, it was good enough for me given my data usage history).

  2. Terry,

    There is a slight correction. With DataPro you are given 2gb of data to use, however, if you enable the tether option or hotspotting, you are given an additional 2gb of data. This makes the total per month at 4gb per month of data usage.

    I’m an original iPhone user and I just switched from te unlimited to the DataPro with tethering (4gb) because I monitored my data usage for te past few months and I don’t go over 280mb of 3G data per month so it makes sense to switch!

    I highly recommend those to download the ATT app to monitor your usage just to see what you actually use per month, and if you are like me… It might not be a bad idea to save $5 a month on just the datapro option. Also, there is so much wifi connections available EVERYWHERE! Home and the office!

    Btw, I’m a heavy user, I’m constantly on my iPhone

  3. When making this choice one should also consider battery life. Neither the iPhone nor a standalone wifi hotpot device has the battery life of something like an iPad with 3G built in. Therefore unless you can plug your hotspot or iPhone into the wall at your destination you will run out of battery before you run afoul of the any bandwidth limits.

    However, a separate data plan for the iPad costs just a little more and you have a chance of actually reaching the bandwidth limits with those humongous iPad batteries.

    I split the difference and retained my “unlimited” plan and then added a Sprint WiMax Hotspot (most of my mobility places me near an outlet at my destination). If I were a road warrior who frequented a 4G LTE area I would wait until next year to buy an iPad designed for Verizon’s new higher speed network.

    I do love the idea of iPhone unlimited data paired with a hotpot though. Perhaps we can hope for an LTE iPhone this next go round?

  4. This seems as a shady option that is very profitable for AT&T and not much choice for the consumer. AT&T knows they will make most of their profit by a small group of people who go over the plan and pay for the overages.

    I choose neither. I would much rather pay for what I use, and however I choose to use it. I’m pretty sure that there are users out there who own a fancy mobile device, but do not use the data plan that much and they have to pay at least $15 for a data plan; and that’s 200MB only. Users does not have much choice but to pay for a data plan when buying a smartphone.

    The internet will become an indispensable utility for the government and consumers, it should be properly regulated.

  5. I’m still with an iPhone 3Gs, so it’s not an option. However, I may consider making the switch when I upgrade to an iPhone 5 (or whatever the next version is called). A review of my data usage shows me that I’m only at 16 MB of my unlimited plan. Most of my monthly usage very likely fits within the 200 MB plan for half the price I’m paying now.

    I’ve previously owned an Aircard for my laptop with AT&T, but it wasn’t a good value at all. I was locked into a 2 year contract paying much more per month for a feature that I really only needed on rare occasions. While I disdain the notion that I have to pay AT&T a premium for using bits on their network just because I attached it to my computer, the reality is that it’s much cheaper to occasionally use that feature than to pay for an Aircard. During a recent stay in a hotel that charged me a resort fee to use WiFi, I found my iPad service was actually faster. Ironically, both were provided by AT&T.

    Right now, I’m not watching movies, downloading or streaming music on my iPhone, or uploading content from it. I’m paying for bandwidth that I’m not using. Changing to a less expensive plan with more features may be reasonable for me.

    However, I wouldn’t do the same with my iPad. That device is large enough to stream movies from Netflix or do other things online that make it worth keeping my unlimited data plan.

  6. While I know I do not use (on the average) 200MB/month on the phone, if I added a hotspot or tethering, I’m sure I’d go over 4GB. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t because it would be too slow for me

  7. I know this is all about the iphone… BUT… VirginMobile recently released android LG and Samsung smart phones ($149 and $199 respectively) with $25/month unlimited data plans.

    You can hit up the Android Market and download a free wifi spot app and suddenly you are a hot spot with unlimited data! I have a Sprint Evo ($69/month + $10/month for 4G) which has the ability to be a hotspot (for an extra $29/month), and when my friend claimed his phone could do this and only cost $25/month I didn’t believe him. He turned it on, I aimed my macbook pro at his phone and I was surfing in seconds!

    I can’t help but wonder if/when the bigger providers will face that music?

  8. I am under the impression that it is 2GB of data for your iPhone plus 2GB of data for the Wi-Fi, not 4GB total???

    Please clarify if possible!

    Thank you.

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