AT&T’s grandfathered unlimited plans are vestiges of an earlier era, when unfettered access to mobile data was a perk offered to those willing to buy into the smartphone before it became ubiquitous. Now, those plans are getting costlier — again. AT&T has just announced a $5 increase on its grandfathered unlimited plans, bringing the total cost per month to $40, according to a report from DSLReports yesterday and confirmed by ArsTechnica today. That follows a $5 increase back in February of 2016, meaning those plans have jumped more than 30 percent in a little under one year.
The price hike won’t occur until March 2017. However, it’s clear the company is encouraging users to abandon those service plans for other offerings that, in the eyes of AT&T, are less unruly. AT&T discontinued its unlimited plan quite some time ago. In its place, the company has shifted to shared data buckets with add-ons and perks — like tethering without any throttling — to incentivize customers to give up their old plans.
If you do decide to keep your grandfathered unlimited plan, AT&T still says it will throttle your connection after you’ve used 22GB of data in a single service period and attempt to connect to a congested tower. Unsurprisingly, AT&T tried to make that data limit as low as 5GB, and the FCC complained.
Even still, the word “unlimited” is clearly being phased out over at AT&T. The company’s only unlimited option that exists today, beyond the grandfathered and increasingly expensive one, comes with a DirecTV subscription. That plan doesn’t allow tethering and costs about $100 for a single phone, which makes it costlier than the current grandfathered option even after the price hike.
At this point, most customers are likely better off figuring out how much data they really use and getting an appropriate and cheaper bucket plan that matches it. But if you’re a really heavy user, or you just want to hold onto the unlimited plan until it’s inevitably killed off, the privilege will start costing you an extra $60 a year.