3G iPhone and AT&T: 3G Coverage, Where to Buy, Cost, Subsidy, Tariff plans and lots more

BY Jason

Published 10 Jun 2008

iPhone 3G and AT&T

If you are in the US and one of those who is excited about the 3G iPhone which was launched yesterday by Steve Jobs at Apple’s WWDC event and are planning to buy it when it is released on July 11th in US then you might want to run through this post which answers some of your questions.

Check out the AT&T’s 3G coverage in your area?

Steve Jobs had showed us that the 3G iPhone can load websites 2.8 times faster than the current iPhone which works over EDGE.

Thats all good if you have 3G coverage in your area otherwise you will be accessing the websites with your 3G iPhone with EDGE speeds.

So one of the first things you should probably do is figure out if AT&T has 3G coverage in your area (AT&T will remain Apple’s exclusive carrier partner in the US). AT&T provides 3G coverage view by selecting specific metro areas (use this link here).

A poster at HowardForums has put together a nationwide map based on AT&T’s disparate data, and as you can see from the map below that though AT&T has good 3G coverage over major metropolitan areas, there are many large areas and states where 3G coverage seems to be completely excluded and only EDGE access is available.

In the image below, blue represents 3G coverage, while bright orange represents EDGE coverage, and lighter orange represents partner coverage.

AT&T's 3G coverage

Where can I buy the 3G iPhone?

You will need to either go to an AT&T or Apple retail store, You cannot order for the 3G iPhone online. The 3G iPhone will be sold on a first come, first server basis when the iPhone is available on 11th July.

The other change in policy seems to be that activation of the 3G iPhone can no longer be done via iTunes. Activation will take place at the time of purchase, either at AT&T or Apple retail stores. This seems to mitigate the market of unlocked iPhone where the iPhone hacking experts had figured out to activate the iPhone using SIM of any other carrier.

It will be interesting to get some comments from the iPhone hacking community to understand the impact of this policy change on iPhone activation.

How much does the 3G iPhone cost and is AT&T subsidizing it?

The iPhone 3G will be subsidized by AT&T, enabling the $199 and $299 price tags for 8GB and 16GB phone models, respectively. It seems like the revenue sharing agreement between Apple and AT&T has ended so Apple will no longer get a cut of the monthly subscriber fees for the iPhone though Apple will apparently still be counting its revenue for the phone over the course of two years.

The rider for the subsidy is that you need to signup for new two year AT&T rate plans, sold separately.

This is for a new AT&T customer and have passed the credit check.

So what are the tariff plans for 3G iPhone?

Pre-Paid and Pick-Your-Plan are not eligible for the iPhone 3G. iPhone owners will need to select a voice plan they want along with with data plans sold separately.

The data plans are as follows:

  • Consumers will pay $30 a month for unlimited 3G data plus $39.99 a month (to start) for voice.
  • Business users will need to pay $45 a month for unlimited data plus a voice plan.

So this would mean that the base iPhone monthly cost for most consumers will go from $59.99 a month (that’s the base first gen iPhone plan with unlimited data, 450 minutes a month, and 200 text messages) to $69.99 a month (you end up paying $240 over the period of two years but for 3G speeds).

Damn, I just bought the current iPhone model, what should I do?

You can relax as per an internal AT&T memo "Customers who purchased a 2.5G iPhone on or after May 27 and want to swap it out for a new iPhone will be able to do so without incurring an additional handset charge for the new device. They will of course need to turn in their 2.5G iPhone."

If you are a current AT&T customer (i.e. prior to 27th May) and you have a 2.5G iPhone?

Tuaw reports based on the same internal AT&T memo that "You can get the new 3G iPhone for the new lower price (starting at $199.99), as long as you sign a new two-year contract and add-on one of the new required data plans."

If you are a current AT&T customer and you do NOT have a 2G iPhone?

Tuaw reports that "You may or may not be eligible to buy the iPhone 3G at its lower price upon release. It depends on the length of your contract, the time of your last handset upgrade and anything else that weighs into AT&T’s standard upgrade policy. The pricing for non-qualified upgrades has not been determined, but phones will still need to be activated in-store and with a data-plan and two-year contract."

In case I have missed something do let me know in the comments.

PS: I had mentioned "one of those who is excited about the 3G iPhone" at the beginning of the post was because not all are, as iPhone hack readers seem quite disappointed (including me probably because we are crazy Apple fanboys who always want to see a lot more though it doesn’t mean I won’t buy it :)).

Related post:

More iPhone 3G tidbits trickling in: No Tethering, Upgrading Policy, 2nd Proximity Sensor & more

O2 will be offering free iPhone with some tarrif plans


Top iPhone Hacks Categories:

iPhone Applications
Unlock iPhone
JailBreak iPhone
iPhone Tips & Tricks
iPhone Games
iPhone News 


What next?