Last year, when the iPad 2 came out, AT&T allowed customers with the unlimited data plan offered for the iPad 1 (but discontinued before the iPad 2 launch) to keep using that plan with the new tablet, much as they’ve done with iPhone and other smartphone customers.
Though recently those same customers are feeling salty because AT&T recently introduced throttling on those “unlimited” accounts that makes them far less useful than a capped plan that costs the same amount.
This practice earned AT&T a lawsuit, which they lost. And still the throttling continues.
What will happen when Apple announces the iPad 3 / iPad HD in a couple of days? One of the persistent rumors about the device is that it will run on 4G mobile broadband networks. How will this affect those still on the unlimited data plan? Will they get grandfathered in as they were last year?
AT&T charges the same for 3G, 4G, and 4G LTE data plans for tablets right now. Presumably it would be a simple thing to transfer the unlimited 3G plan to an unlimited 4G or LTE plan if AT&T chooses to do so.
But given the war they’re waging on unlimited users I wouldn’t be surprised if they made customers re-purchase the no-contract plans claiming that the 4G-ness of the new iPad means new contracts.
I reached out to AT&T to ask if existing customers would be able to transfer their unlimited plans to new devices. The carrier had no comment.
At this point, I wouldn’t count on getting sweet unlimited data if the iPad goes 4G. Then again, with people getting the throttling message at 2GB when 3GB plans exist, some may choose to give up unlimited if only to stop the madness.