AT&T to require smartphone data plans starting September 6th

AT&T subscribers, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that as of September 6th, AT&T will begin requiring that all smartphones sign up for a smartphone data plan. The good news is that customers with smartphones purchased prior to September 6th with non-smartphone data plans will be grandfathered in and will not have to upgrade their current plans. Note that if you currently use a feature phone with a data plan and you upgrade to a smartphone on or after September 6th, you will not be able to keep your current MediaNet plan.

We’ve been hearing rumblings to this effect for a few weeks now but as of this morning it’s 100% confirmed thanks to an internal email from one of our ninjas. AT&T’s claimed reasoning behind the move: to ensure customers receive a predictable bill each month. Mmm hmm. Note that this only applies to smartphones purchased from AT&T or a dealer of course, so those of you who opt for unlocked handsets should be unaffected. Hit the jump for the internal email circulated today at AT&T.

Beginning September 6, 2009, customers who activate or upgrade to a Smartphone will need to sign up for an appropriate data plan. Existing Smartphone customers active prior to September 6, 2009 will be grandfathered and exempt from the new policy.

Why we are making this change?
We want our customers to have the best possible experience with their Smartphones. A predictable bill is a key factor in customer satisfaction, so effective September 6, 2009 Smartphone customers will need to subscribe to a data plan, as the vast majority of customers already do. Data plans let customers fully utilize their device, without the worry of bill shock.

How we will ensure an extraordinary customer experience?
The sales representative is the customer’s expert resource in helping select the right device for their needs. When a customer does not want a data plan, we will position other devices in our industry leading portfolio for the customer to choose from, as many devices do not require a data plan.

Action Required:
Sales Managers will review the Know the Facts, Job Aid, and FAQs (found under Related Links) with their sales teams and ensure all sales representatives fully understand the new policy and how to position the Smartphone data requirement to customers. A Sales Coaching Session will be available on September 5, 2009 (document to be distributed in advance).

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