Mobile network plans that only offer cellular data, without the usual phone number and messaging services, started becoming more popular a few years ago. They’re still not incredibly common, but they can be a cheaper method of adding LTE or 5G to a tablet or PC. AT&T is one carrier that has offered data-only plans for a while, and now the company is updating them with higher data caps and lower monthly bills.
AT&T previously sold two ‘DataConnect’ post-paid plans: 15GB for $60/mo, or 35GB for $85/mo. The prices were reduced by $10 when you signed up for AutoPay and paperless billing, but you would also be charged $10 for every 2GB used over the limit. Pre-paid customers had the option of 3GB for $25/mo, 10GB for $50/mo, or 18GB for $75/mo. The pre-paid plans had no international support.
The post-paid plans have been replaced with two new tiers: 25GB for $50/mo, or 40GB for $75/mo. That’s significantly less expensive, and tethering is allowed “with compatible devices.” AT&T is also enabling 5G access on the plans, though you’ll need a hotspot or tablet that can connect to 5G (which are still not commonplace), and AT&T’s 5G network still isn’t widely available. The pre-paid data-only plans remain at the same prices.
AT&T didn’t mention why it reduced prices, though it could be the result of low customer demand for the older plans — $60 for 15GB was a tough pill to swallow, even if tethering and other functionality was available. The updated plans could also be in preparation for more 5G-connected laptops and tablets, like the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Book Go. HP also released a laptop earlier this year with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 chipset and 5G compatibility, and 5G is one of the selling points for Apple’s new iPad Pro.