Starting early next month, AT&T will require all its customers who are buying a smartphone to sign up for an “appropriate” data plan.
An internal memo that has leaked out of this wireless carrier spells it out:
Beginning September 6, 2009, customers who activate or upgrade to a Smartphone will need to sign up for an appropriate data plan. Existing Smartphone customers active prior to September 6, 2009 will be grandfathered and exempt from the new policy.
This isn’t a new strategy for AT&T — everyone who buys an iPhone is required to sign a data plan. But this is the first time it has required a more expensive service contract with all its smartphones.
Still, AT&T isn’t breaking new ground. One of its top competitors, Verizon Wireless, starting requiring a $30 data plan with all smartphone sales last year.
This carrier says that it’s making this move to save customers from “bill shock”. Smartphones offer advanced features that require a great deal of data transfers. Typical phone plans include only a small amount of wireless data, so new smartphone users with the wrong plan can accidentally run up huge bills.