Owners of iPads, iPhones and other smart phones will no longer be able to sign up for plans with unlimited use of e-mail, videos and other Internet data, AT&T announced Wednesday.
Existing subscribers can keep their $30 unlimited data plan. New subscribers will have to to choose between two plans offering different levels of data use. Both will charge extra for consumption over the limits.
The changes will take effect Monday, the same day Apple is expected to unveil the new iPhone OS4 operating system.
In a news release, AT&T said changing its pricing system would make "the mobile Internet more affordable to a greater number of people" by lowering prices for most customers.
The shift also reveals the extent to which the iPhone and now the iPad have clogged the company's network.
Out-of-control data use is the dark side of Apple's success: The iPhone made surfing the Web on a phone easy, and Apple has sold more than 2 million iPads, devices made specifically for data consumption. There is a vastly larger collection of applications and content sites for iPhones than for other smart phones.
On average, iPhone users consume 273 megabytes of data a month, compared with 54 megabytes for BlackBerry users and 150 megabytes for other smart phones, according to Consumer Reports.
Still, the company said its new, two-tier system would meet the needs of 98 percent of customers at either $15 or $25 a month. Those left out: the 2 percent of users who are the biggest data gobblers.
The strain on the network from these users has led to complaints.
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