Did anyone think to realize the next iterations of the iPhone and other new smart phones will be bringing big data hungry things to the table? (video conference for example) Limiting our bandwidth will prohibit our future. I can see why AT&T is probably losing their exclusivity to Verizon and possibly others. (if Apple isn't behind this.) We can only hope VZW doesn't copy, but instead capitalize on this opportunity. Their upcoming LTE network should be more than enough to handle the fallout.
Video conferencing, especially on a small iPhone screen, does not have to be super data intensive. Most video conferencing is very compressed because it's typically showing powerpoint presentations or screen demos, and transmitting phone-quality sound, not much in the way of moving images.
The use cases that cause heavy data usage on smartphones are video streaming (think movies/TV shows) and/or tethering with video streaming/downloading.
Alright, it most likely wont be more complicated than a web cam. Still, you have to realize that it's not only being downloaded but uploaded as well. Now multiply that by hours (if it's useful for the average user) and it can rival any streaming bandwidth used by the phone. You're right, though, it wont be as demanding as tethered streaming, especially HD. That's not my point however. AT&T is taking it's business back to the 90s. If AT&T really listened to it's customers it would have more tiers (doesn't have to be unlimited) and the option to not have data at all. That will never happen.
Yep, always-on webcam/securitycam is another good use case I hadn't thought of that will push the data limits.
AT&T used to have the option to not have a data plan, and the reason they mandated it is because so many clueless customers ran up huge a la carte data bills and then complained and went public with their denunciations. It was easier for AT&T to lose the business of those who really wanted no data and actually knew what they were doing when they did it, than to put up with the hordes of cluelessness.
Not sure what you mean by "more tiers"... they essentially have unlimited tiers right now, at the rate of $10/GB above the 2GB base plan. What are you suggesting?