AT&T has just changed the face of cell data in the US by axing their "unlimited" plans, offering cheaper but data-capped (200MB/2GB) plans in their place, and supporting tethering for an additional fee. Existing customers can keep their own plans, but new customers get these starting June 7. Coincidentally, that's the day Steve Jobs takes the keynote stage at WWDC 2010 to announce the 4th generation iPhone HD/iPhone 4G, probably with video chat over 3G.

NOTE: Existing customers -- even if you upgrade to the new iPhone HD/iPhone 4G in June -- can still keep your existing unlimited data plans. You're grandfathered in.

Here are the details:

  • DataPlus. Provides 200 megabytes (MB) of data – for example, enough to send/receive 1,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 150 emails with attachments, plus view 400 Web pages, plus post 50 photos on social media sites, plus watch 20 minutes of streaming video – for just $15 per month.** This plan, which can save customers up to 50 percent off their wireless data charges, is designed for people who primarily like to surf the web, send email and use social networking apps. If customers exceed 200 MB in a monthly billing cycle, they will receive an additional 200 MB of data usage for $15 for use in the cycle. Currently, 65 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data per month on average.

  • DataPro. Provides 2 gigabytes (GB) of data – for example, enough to send/receive 10,000 emails (no attachments), plus send/receive 1,500 emails with attachments, plus view 4,000 Web pages, plus post 500 photos to social media sites, plus watch 200 minutes of streaming video – for $25 per month.** Should a customer exceed 2 GB during a billing cycle, they will receive an additional 1 GB of data for $10 for use in the cycle. Currently, 98 percent of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB of data a month on average.

  • Tethering. Smartphone customers – including iPhone customers – who choose the DataPro plan have the option to add tethering for an additional $20 per month. Tethering lets customers use their smartphones as a modem to provide a broadband connection for laptop computers, netbooks or other computing devices. Tethering for iPhones will be available when Apple releases iPhone OS 4 this summer.

No 5GB option, even if purely for psychological reasons, is pretty hard to imagine. You can do it by adding $30 in overage to your $25/2GB plan but that sounds silly.

As Jeremy would say, sound off in the comments!

[AT&T]