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AT&T Rolls Out New Mobile Plans, Eliminates Data Overage Fees

Starting Sunday, AT&T is launching new wireless plans that it said will eliminate data overage charges for customers. Instead of generating extra fees once they exceed their monthly data caps, the network speeds of customers with Mobile Share Advantage plans will be slowed down to limit further data consumption.

Verizon, the largest wireless company in the U.S., made similar changes to its mobile plans last month with the addition of a “Safety Mode” app that lets customers slow down their data speeds to avoid overage charges. T-Mobile has offered a similar option since late 2014, when it introduced a “Data Stash” program that lets users carry over unused high-speed data from one month to the next. Sprint also introduced a “throttled” data option for users in October.

The second largest mobile service provider in the country, AT&T last updated its wireless plans in December, when it raised monthly prices for customers who had been grandfathered into its old unlimited data plans. The new plans rolling out Sunday offer monthly data caps ranging from 1 GB to 200 GB.

But Some Apps May Not Work

AT&T said the new Mobile Share Advantage plans offer consumer and business users the same features as its previous Mobile Share Value plans. Those features include unlimited domestic talk and text, rollover and shareable data options, and mobile hotspot capabilities.

The new plans start at $30 per month for 1 GB of data and go to $135 per month for 30 GB of data, with higher data options of up to 100 GB for consumers and up to 200 GB for businesses. All Mobile Share Advantage plans also have access charges of $10 to $40 per month per device not included in those prices.

When customers exceed their monthly data charges their network speeds will be slowed down to 128 Kbps for the remainder of the billing cycle, according to AT&T. While the throttled speeds will support basic email and Web page viewing, streaming services, picture and video messaging, some other apps and services “will be impacted and may not be fully functional.”

In Talks To Accelerate 5G Development

AT&T today also said it is in talks with a number of potential technology partners, including Deutsche Telekom, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung, to prepare for the release of new specifications for 5G, the next generation of wireless services.

Collaborating on technology standards ahead of the specifications being developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project initiative will help businesses and consumers get 5G technology even faster, according to AT&T.

“Interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications can distract from the ultimate goal,” Tom Keathley, AT&T’s senior vice president for wireless network architecture and design, said in a statement today. “Linking trials to the standards process is the fastest path to large-scale global 5G deployment.”

AT&T is also collaborating with Intel on a variety of “software-centric network technologies,” Andre Fuetsch, the company’s senior vice president of domain 2.0 architecture and design, said in a blog post.

“The demands on our network are booming,” Fuetsch noted. “Consumers are adopting data-hungry applications like virtual reality and augmented reality, 4K video and the Internet of Things. Enterprises want greater and near real-time control of virtualized network functions. We think this Intel collaboration will accelerate innovation in all those areas and help us stay ahead of demand.”

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