AT&T Cracking Down - iPhone 3G Users Currently on Other Plans Be Warned

Last week AT&T created quite a ruckus for altering their ToS, but after the backlash they ultimately decided against it. Well, we may be looking at round 2 here.

This time a tipster has told TiPb that iPhone 3G owners in the Atlanta and Austin markets who are not currently provisioned with an iPhone 3G data plan will receive an SMS message advising them that an iPhone 3G rate plan will be added to their line of service. These customers will begin receiving SMS messages today and the plans will be provisioned on the evenings of April 8th and 9th. It appears that AT&T just tapped these two cities as a trial run, the rest of the country should start getting similar alerts on April 21st.

So what does all of this mean? There are a few possibilities, depending on your mobile situation:

  • If you are using an iPhone 3G and you snuck in one of AT&T's MediaNET data plans for $15 you will be forced on the $30 iPhone 3G data plan.
  • For those of you who share SIM cards between an iPhone and Blackberry while using a Blackberry data plan, well it may be a bit more troublesome. Since your BlackBerry requires a BlackBerry plan to work, you'll need to make extra-double-sure you don't get an alert and if you do, you will want to call up AT&T right away and explain that you're a SIM-swapper and to leave your plan set to your BB plan -- which will hopefully continue to work fine on an iPhone.
  • Lastly, with a PDA Unlimited data plan, expect minimal damage.  It's theoretically possible that MMS will not work since the iPhone currently does not support MMS, at least until AT&T flips the switch when iPhone OS 3.0 drops.  So check that.

The upshot is this: if AT&T starts noticing that you're using an iPhone 3G, they're going to start enforcing their long-standing policy that you use an iPhone 3G plan. If you're a regular SIM-swapper, you might be in for some hassles, depending on what your current plan is.

The thing that really rubs TiPb the wrong way is that the BlackBerry, PDA, and iPhone data plans all are $30. Why not allow us to change our devices as we see fit and keep it simple by one data plan to rule them all.  BlackBerry users who try to switch their SIM to another device have long lived with the pain of not having a plan that easily works on non-BB phones.  For now, iPhone plans do work fine on other devices.

So to all of the SIM swappers out there or for those of you who flew under the radar, how are you feeling about this?  Isn't part the point of having a GSM phone being able to swap the SIM with minimal hassle?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Jeremy

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AT&T Cracking Down - iPhone 3G Users Currently on Other Plans Be Warned

45 Comments

The problem with a BB plan is that part of that monthly fee gets paid to RIM, as all of the web browsing is going through a RIM proxy and email push is handled by RIM.

I am one of those under the radar. My reasons are because I work for at&t and I have an employee line which the iphone data isnt applicable on. So there isnt even an option to get the iPhone3G data on the feature page of my account. Maybe they wont crack down on its own employees? I dunno, sucks if they do.

how do you swap sims? you cant get the sim out of the iphone (as far as i know) does this require a call to at&t every time you want to swap.
for obvious reasons i would love to carry a small cheapy phone when i am doing outdoorsy stuff in which i might drop or break it.

@Mike, yes you can remove the sim from any iPhone. The iPhone 3G even came with a "sim removal tool"... or you can use a small paper clip to open the tray as well.

i bought my iphon on ebay and i had a blackberry before i use it for minutes and txts. I never had a data plan. I bought the iphone on ebay becouse i didnt want to get data plan on my iphone. Att called me twice already and i never picked up does this mean im goin to have to get a data plan?

You should realize that there are things within the network that require their own provisioning... and if it's not done correctly can result in a few issues, depending.
For example, Visual Voicemail is tied in with the iPhone data plan (I can't go into details) and if things aren't lined up, so to say, you can end up with issues.
But, point is -- YES it would be convenient to have an "all-in-one" data plan, but due to certain limitations within how they're all set up in the billing system/network, we can't all be happy, and in reality we try to streamline data plans all the time!
Not to mention, you did agree to the ToS at activation, which included that stipulation of the iPhone data plan :) Also, keep in mind AT&T has to work on Apple's terms too... activation through iTunes, etc. etc.
Now, if you are a second-hand iPhone owner (not the original activator) if you incur severe data overages - well, it's your responsibility. I recommend you take the initiative to make sure you're set up, since you're going through third-party channels!

I was going to sneak in a medianet plan but it was too much to go through.
I really couldn't see why they would make sure everyone has just the plan for their phone despite the price. However, all the iPhone is doing is just tapping into AT&T's network. BlackBerry is sort of doing the same when it comes to data. So maybe it has something to do with that.
I hope they put that extra money towards their current 3G and future LTE network :)

Blackberry Plans is just that, for Blackberries. The reason it matters is because AT&T is giving up part of the revenue. If you are on an iPhone using Blackberry unlimited, AT&T sharing revenue with RIM for someone that doesn't even use the Blackberry plan. The PDA and iPhone data plans are AT&T data plans and would not need to share any revenue with RIM.
I am actually one who uses the BB data plan with an iPhone. I refuse to change it as the only thing I lose is visual vm and I use YouMail so I don't need/use that feature anyways.

Traditionally, sim swappers swapped multiple sims
into a single phone to avoid roaming charges.
Swapping a single sim into multiple devices is
different in that the single sim has to be provisioned
all those devices and that could raise unresolvable
conflicts.
So how many people do this anyway?
Given the flakyness of traveling with an iPhone
I carry an emergency KRZR but have only needed
it once.

I swap a single SIM into multiple devices, depending on whether I want a dedicated keyboard (Blackberry), a small flip phone, a candybar phone, etc.
Yeah I'm probably weird. :)
Sometimes when I travel abroad I'll buy a local SIM and use it in one of my phones.

Well, I don't know about you all, but if AT&T does it to me, I will cancel my contract since I won't be agreeing to the additional charges.
Check this out, as much as I like technology and try to use the best there is, I hate companies when they squeeze my money out of me. As a consumer, I won't be forced to do anything. I would hope that other consumers stand up to these companies and let them know that they cannot do this or they will lose business.

I also have Nokia N95 8GB that I had the 15 dollar data plan and tryed to use the same simcard on my iPhone 3G couple hours later I recieved a txt saying that I need to be on a iPhone plan if not there will be charges on my account. This was like December '08.

Wow. This makes me really glad I sold my iPhone and att plan and went with t-mo. AFter being spoiled with the google phone, I could never go back to iphone. Thanks for this article ;)

Those swapping sims, watch out. I was swapping my bb sim card between my iPhone and bb. I got the AT&T SMS to use the right plan. Ignored it. 2 bills later I got hit with a 850 dollar bill for iPhone data usage. I had to fight to get it taken off. I had to add a line to use both of them. Sooner or later they are going to crack down of sim swapper and its bs

Not sure how they can change the plan like that. I'd call them and tell them to shove it up their ass. If you don't agree to a plan change (and a price increase), then how can they do that?

we need Zibri to work out another exploit to change the IMEI of the phone and make it seem moto razor or something like we were able to do with iphone 2g :D

I switch between my 3G and my Bold. It does cause problems, since each has unique services to that phone. I ended up leaving the BB plan in place, but I don't have visual voice mail if I have the 3G on me. No biggie. If I leave it as the 3G plan, I lose my BB IM when I go back. I agree. There should be a "smart phone" plan. The flip side is you can call *611 and get customer service to switch it for you. I have done this a couple of times (when I wanted the phone for a few weeks) and they did it with no problem / charges.

denis said: "i bought my iphon on ebay and i had a blackberry before i use it for minutes and txts. I never had a data plan. I bought the iphone on ebay becouse i didnt want to get data plan on my iphone. Att called me twice already and i never picked up does this mean im goin to have to get a data plan?"
I would think that it depends on whether you are using the AT&T network. If you are on their network, they can charge you whatever they want.
But if you are using some other network, it seems to me that it is no different than if you were using Comcast and RCN started sending you bills. I think I'd take the call, ask for an snail mail address, then send them a registered letter informing them that you are not an AT&T customer, not using their services, and that if they attempt to bill you, you will file a fraud complaint with your state's Attorney General.

I live in Washington DC Metro area and I got similar SMS twice from AT&T last weekend when I got a iPhone off ebay and started using with my $15 unlimited data plan. I called AT&T customer service and argued why I should pay $30 as I didn't get a discounted iPhone from them. It didn't help.
I wonder why would anyone pay $599.99 for thier contract free phones if they are forced to expensive plan rates because the phone was given at discount price.
I plan to sell my iPhone soon and go back to my $15 unlimited plan. I can use those $15/month savings towards a nice unlocked phone plus the family unlimited data/messaging plan for 2 phones cost just $40 for me. With iPhone it's currently costing me $75 (1 iPhone and 1 old Sony Ericsson phone on the plan).

"we need Zibri to work out another exploit to change the IMEI of the phone and make it seem moto razor or something like we were able to do with iphone 2g"
Amen to that!

that data should be 70.... 30 dollar iphone plan + 30 dollar family text + 10 family data. call in a get it switched.

don worry guys, this is not gonna effect us. they been telling this for over a year. i work for at&t....all they are trying to do is...scare the customers...so they take off $15 media net and add $30 data plan. so att can make more money.

Yeah subhash, but $15.00 medianet includes 1500 texts. So they would take off $15.00 medianet and add $30.00 iPhone date plan, but then you'd have to purchase another $15.00 text plan. So you'd be paying $30.00 more per month.
IMO, the $30 iPhone data plan should include texting.
It's ridiculous how much they charge for texts. Texts cost them virtually nothing to provide.

well, to all of you out there with some technical knowlege. Most of AT&T's tracking of people's activities can easily be done any time your phone is connected to their network. as has been previously mentioned, manually modifying the phone by changing the IMEI number WILL work to trick AT&T (and other GSM/UMTS providers) into believeing that the IMEI number belongs to the other phone. A method has not yet been widely created to do this yet. I know that SIM swapping works becuase I work with Motorola engineers and currently am using an unlocked, in-house Mororola Q GSM (with an IMEI number that just registers to Motorola test phone) and I am on the 15$ unlimited data plan and have no issues switching this SIM card between the Q and other phones (excluding iphone and blackberry). also as previously stated, some data services offfered are phone brand specific which would obviously cause problems and AT&T will obviously complain and threaten to charge you more becuase it inconveinences them. So, basically wait for the IMEI mod for the iPhone 3G and until then fly under the radar... Good luck.
PS. A further note... with the 15$ unlim. data service, going over 5gb a month is a bad idea as it will raise red flags that you are tethering without a tethering plan or using the phone as a modem for extensive data use.

Stay away from BB and iPhone. I have been using my SE Xperia X1 w/ ATT $15 data plan w/ no problem. Gotta love the HSDPA :P

I got my iPhone from the AT&T store, but i had mentioned to them that I do not want any data OR internet OR text, but for some reason..they added the data to my iPhone plan
and now they say..they cannot remove it...its part of some crappy plan...and goes with the iPhone...I don't understand why in the world should i pay $30 for data every month, that i aint gonna use...This is absolutely ridiculous....rip off.
Anythoughts & ideas.
Thanks.

Just turn off the 3G if you really dont use it much. Most applications like the MLB radio work more stable with the Edge anyways. What really makes no sense is if you have unlimited data plan what's the difference. Answer is "none"! If At&t would just let the customers use the phone for what Apple broadcasts it can do, instead of worrying about how to charge for every single thing the phone can do, people would gladly pay. Unfortunatley they continue to lock things down, hide setting, disable settings etc... to mask the fact that you dont need to use the IP plan.

This Obama's fault. Wait till he hits you with my Cap and Trade and Carbon Tax. Hahahahahahaha The Government will have all your money. Then NONE of you will be able to afford an iPhone. All your money will go to those who got me elected and all the lazy Democrats on welfare!!!!! Down with Free Enterprise! Successful People are EVIL!

Hi,
I am an AT&T corporate Enterprise PDA for Microsoft and it costs $45 (before corporate discounts). When I swap my sim to an iphone, the plan plan does not work, but the voice works. Does anyone know the reason for this and a way around this? Thank you very much.

Encore,
I had the same problem - the PDA plans do not work (anymore?) with the iPhone. I called 611 yesterday, changed my plan to the iPhone plan (AT&T will charge me $1 for the switch - fair price ;-) and registered my iPhone's IMEI with AT&T. Now everything works. But I assume that's not a recipee for switching more often.

I tried to use my sim with a Medianet plan on an iphone too and I faced the same problem of not being able to connect to the internet. I did some research and realised that the phone was missing AT&T's data settings. Hence I went on to http://iclarified.com/entry/index.php?enid=4272 and installed the proper settings. Although tethering did not work on my phone (probably because I was on iPhone 3.1), the data connection went active.

I really want an iPhone... i bought an iPod Touch for my son for Christmas and we now have an iMac at home... We just can't change our phone services to AT&T. My company requires that I use USCellular and I really don't want an equivalent to the iPhone. My husband has another year in a Verizon phone contract. I really hope that the monopoly w/ AT&T ends soon!!! I can't believe that Apple started that contract w/ AT&T. I think that they would have sold a lot more of them by now if that relationship didn't exist. I would have had an iPhone a long time ago...

I see that swapping between bb and iphone can cause problems, but how about swapping sims from a nokia to a BB? I Currently have a monthly plan with o2 including free texts and unlimited internet usage. I currently can't send or call on my blackberry (curve) and wonder if there's anything i can do to make it work. Does the data plan from my o2 monthly account effect the functioning of the BB? I really want to be able to use both phones so not to screw up the BB. Thanks for any help in advance

My POS Nokia phone (the free flipphone) that I had dropped and shattered into about 5 pieces. My work had an extra BB 8310 that they gave me, but said I had to put in my own SIM chip. I did so and my BB is working fine. There is no data on it, but I can make/receive calls just fine.
I have had this for about a year now, and have not gotten charged the data plan.
I hope this helps.

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