The iPhone 3G Rate Plan for Data is Probably $35 Per Month If You Still Want 200 SMS Messages

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One of the things that I was wondering when watching Steve Jobs’ keynote at the Apple WWDC yesterday was, “How much will AT&T charge me for data if I upgrade from my current iPhone?”

Note to Readers: This article is about the rates AT&T will charge for data service on the iPhone 3G. If you need a total monthly service estimate, look at iPhone 3G Rate Plan Estimated Monthly Costs.

At first it appeared that the data plan price would increase from $20 to $30 per month. That’s what AT&T plans to charge iPhone customers for unlimited 3G data. However, I subsequently read Om Malik’s interview with Ralph de la Vega, the president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. What de la Vega said in this interview made me revise my monthly data plan price estimate from $30 to $35 per month:

Has there been a change in the cost of data plans?

The data plans are different on the 3G iPhone vs. the 2G iPhone. Consumers will pay $30 a month every month, while enterprises will pay $45 a month. This is what you pay us on other PDA devices such as BlackBerry Curve. The SMS messages are not bundled anymore, and you pay for what you want. Again, the prices are based on what you buy.

I can’t find anything right now on Apple or AT&T Mobility’s websites indicating what the SMS rates will be, but several sites on the Internet are reporting that 200 SMS messages per month will cost 3G customers $5.

One of the more pleasant surprises of owning an iPhone over the past year was the modest cost of the data plan. I felt like we got a good deal at $20 per month for unlimited data delivered at the EDGE rate. I also felt that including 200 SMS messages was reasonable considering that many Internet-enabled mobile applications use at least a few SMS messages now and then.

I think the unbundling of SMS from 3G data service on the new iPhone 3G service plans feels like nickel-and-diming the customer. My goal if I were AT&T would be to get people to upgrade to unlimited SMS, and maybe I’d charge $5 to $10 a month for that so people felt like they were getting a deal.

Maybe that’s why I don’t work in the rate setting department.



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