By: Nick Gambino

AT&T is raising prices on grandfathered unlimited plans. It’s pretty obvious that the mobile giant regrets their one-time decision to offer unlimited data plans to their customers and then compounding it by allowing those same customers to keep these plans indefinitely.

Slowly but surely they’ve been taking strides to make holding onto one of these plans a living hell. Well, maybe not a living hell but more like a cellular hell. They’ve just announced their plan to raise the monthly price of any of those still grandfathered into unlimited plans from $30 to $35 starting in February 2016.

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You may think that’s barely a hike, more of a stroll down the driveway and you’re not wrong. It’s pretty insignificant. If you look at current rates on data plans, for $30 you only get 2 GB a month. Yikes. But here’s the thing, when you look at the fact that unlimited plans don’t hold up service-wise to most other plans then it seems like just another nail in the coffin to a once great plan.

What am I talking about when I mention the sub-par service offered to unlimited data plan subscribers? Glad you asked. AT&T implemented a throttling threshold to those grandfathered in. What this does is slow down service after they get to a certain level of data used. This threshold was introduced in February 2012, two years after they ceased offering uncapped data plans.

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For a while now that threshold was set at around 5 GB. So if you were the kind of mobile user who liked to stream endlessly on your phone, once you hit 5 GB the quality of the stream would take a nosedive or at times not stream altogether.

Ok, I have a confession to make. In September of this year AT&T actually raised that threshold to 22 GB and it only kicks in when the nearby cell tower is congested. So that was pretty cool of them. And the price hike is their first in 7 years.

So, yes, as you may have suspected, my tone towards AT&T was negative in the early part of this article for jealous reasons. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s because I’m bitter that I’m paying probably three times more than the grandfathered plan and my unreined sense of entitlement has gotten ahold of me. The fact is, $35 for an unlimited plan with decent service up to 22 GB, is a steal in today’s overly expensive mobile world.

I doubt they’ll see a lot of customers terminating their unlimited plans with this move. Sure they’ll see some but they’ll also make an extra five bucks on everybody else. So win-win for everybody, except me. I’ll just have to continue accumulating every WiFi password I can within a 50-mile radius.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch.  He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.


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