AT&T Forcing More Users To $30/Month Data Plan

Enjoying that old school MEdia Net data plan on your feature phone or smartphone? Get ready to kiss it goodbye should you ever choose to upgrade to a new phone. Proving once again that all good things must eventually end, AT&T has today made clear that any phone that it deems a "smartphone" will be subject to the same $30/month data plan that iPhone and BlackBerry users currently endure.

In other words, any Palm, Windows Mobile or Symbian S60-based phone that is purchased from AT&T will have to be paired with a $30/month data plan. And yes, that includes the incredible small Nokia Surge, which is absolutely no a smartphone by anyone's definition other than AT&T's. Of course, if you go out and buy your own unlocked device, there's still a chance that the $15/month MEdia Net plan could be applied to your account, but said plan (which allows for unlimited data, but was conceived for use on dumbphones that barely use any data at all) is becoming increasingly difficult to apply.

Speaking of MEdia Net, AT&T has stated that it will be "changing the policies" surrounding it in order to "give subscribers a more consistent billing experience," which probably means jacking up the unlimited rates and doing away or limiting the "per MB" rate that currently sits at $2/MB for domestic data use. When talking about the addition of the $30/month data plan to all "smartphones," AT&T had this to say:

"Smartphone users tend to consume a higher amount of data services, like advanced e-mail, mobile Web, applications, and more. Being able to take full advantage of these features without having to worry about a fluctuating or unusually high bill generally leads to greater customer satisfaction, so effective Sept. 6, smartphone customers will need to subscribe to a data plan, as the vast majority of customers already do."

Don't be confused--that statement really says nothing at all of value. It's a poor attempt to dodge the fact that the company is trying to charge more for data plans that won't be used as much as those on iPhones and BlackBerry handsets, so make darn sure the next smartphone you buy from AT&T is really intelligent. Otherwise, you may need to take your business elsewhere.