AT&T moves grandfathered subscribers into pricier plans unilaterally

Looking to perform some accounting magic with subscribers grandfathered into certain older mobile data plans, AT&T is moving these customers into new plans that cost them $10 more per month. The carrier is not allowing these customers to continue with their current plans but is throwing in 15GB a month of additional data with the new ones. A support page for AT&T’s Mobile Share plans (via The Verge) states, “Enjoy more data. Starting with your October 2019 bill, you’ll get an additional 15GB of data on your Mobile Share plan.” But AT&T then puts a price on this act of largesse. “This bonus data comes with a $10 price increase,” the support page notes. The new pricing starts with the October 2019 bill which drops this month.
The bottom line (besides the one that AT&T is fattening) is that customers on one of these plans can pay $10 more per month and get 15GB of additional data, switch to an AT&T unlimited plan, or just switch to another carrier. But many subscribers on a tiered data plan are not huge consumers of data and some might not feel like shopping around for a new wireless operator. And while many of these grandfathered subscribers could save money with an unlimited plan, some of them might not even know what their options are; most are older and not mobile-savvy. The notice that AT&T sent affected customers doesn’t make it appear that those subscribers have any choices.

Moving subscribers to a new plan without asking if they want to do so and charging $10 a month more for a “bonus” seems unseemly especially after the FTC earlier this week approved a $60 million settlement between the regulatory agency and AT&T; the carrier was accused of throttling the data speeds of unlimited customers who were not told that they had a monthly data cap that when exceeded, allowed AT&T to slow their data speeds by as much as 95%.

The new AT&T Mobile Share plans are as follows:

On the other hand, AT&T’s lowest priced unlimited plan starts at $65 per month for one line (with AutoPay and paperless billing), but ironically it allows the carrier to throttle data speeds whenever the network is busy. For $75 per month for one line (with AutoPay and paperless billing), an AT&T customer can receive unlimited talk, text and data. Once more than 50GB of data is used in a month, the subscriber’s data speed can be throttled.

Alan Friedman

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