AT&T on Wednesday announced increased data rates for smartphone and tablet customers that will go into effect next week. The mobile operator is scrambling for new ways to address the broadband crunch after dropping its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile USA, which would have increased its spectrum by 62%.
Data usage is increasing by 40% each year, according to Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations at AT&T (Dallas, Texas, USA), which means the service provider needs to find short and long-term fixes for its spectrum  shortage. These new data usage changes can perhaps be seen as a short-term fix for this long-term problem.
The new data changes include paying $20 for 300MB, as opposed to the previous price of $15 for 200MB. For the larger data plans, customers will now pay $30 for 3GB – previously $25 for 2GB- and $50 dollars for 5GB- previously $45 for 4GB.
"Customers are using more data than ever before," said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. "Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment."
AT&T’s new prices come very close to resembling that of the number one U.S. telecom carrier. Verizon ’s (New York) data prices include $30 for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB.
Both Verizon and AT&T have dropped their unlimited data plans.
AT&T says it encourages its customers to keep their device's Wi-Fi turned on because data usage over Wi-Fi does not count against a customer's monthly data plan.
These new data plans are only for new customers; existing customers may choose to keep their current plan or switch to a new one.