AT&T Cuts Data Cost on Pre-paid Plans

AT&T announced big price cuts for pre-paid data plans on Tuesday: It's now offering, for example, 10MB of data for $5, up from 1MB for $4.99.

AT&T also introduced a new pre-paid 500MB plan for $25, and said its 100MB cost has dropped from $19.99 to $15.

"There's a lot of talk now about wireless prices potentially going up, [but] here are...examples to suggest otherwise," said Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman, in announcing the cuts.

The data pricing move came as the carrier announced its first GoPhone smartphone for pre-paid customers, the LG Thrive, which goes on sale April 17. AT&T will sell the Thrive's post-paid version, the LG Phoenix on that same day.

The Thrive will sell for $179.99, and a GoPhone smartphone plan and data package are required. The Phoenix will sell for $49.99 with a two-year service agreement from AT&T.

Both have 3.2-in. displays and run Android 2.2. They include Wi-Fi and Exchange e-mail. Both have access to HSDPA 7.2 3G data speeds. A 2GB microSD card comes installed.

Analysts have widely predicted that carriers will begin instituting better values for pre-paid customers, even as they set limits on data usage for post-paid customers or raise prices on those plans. Pre-paid customers tend to be younger and prefer plans that are paid in advance to avoid needing a credit card to cover the costs for post-paid plans.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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