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AT&T to sell unlimited data without iPad 3G hardware before June 7 [u]

Customers who are looking to lock in an unlimited data plan for the iPad 3G, but don't have the scarcely available device before AT&T's 2GB cap goes into effect starting Monday may be in luck, as the wireless carrier is looking into the matter [Updated with more info].

Currently, customers must have an iPad with a 3G radio in order to purchase a data plan for AT&T. But starting Monday, the current unlimited bandwidth plan for $30-per-month will no longer be available. This presents a problem for U.S. customers, as many stores have had extremely limited availability since the 3G model launched.

According to Nick Bilton of The New York Times, AT&T may be looking to accommodate users who want to lock in an unlimited plan before it is no longer available for purchase. Customers who have an unlimited iPhone or iPad data plan before June 7 will be able to keep them.

An AT&T representative told the Times that the company is "looking into the situation and how they can accommodate these customers." An executive spoke anonymously with the paper and said that the company's efforts were still being discussed internally, but the hope is to be able to allow customers who pay for an iPad before June 7 but don't receive the hardware to still sign up for an unlimited data plan.

Update: AT&T notified one customer via its official Facebook page that the company "will honor the $29.99 unlimited data pricing for customers who order iPad by June 7." Details on how customers will be able to sign up for the plan without the hardware were not provided.

Whatever AT&T decides, they'll have to act fast — based on the company's current schedule, the unlimited plans will no longer be available after 11:59 p.m. this Sunday, June 6.

Starting June 7, AT&T's new high-end data plan, dubbed "DataPro," offers 2GB of data for $25 per month. A less expensive "DataPlus" plan will offer 200MB for $15 per month. AT&T has said that 65 percent of its smartphone customers use less than 200MB per month, while 98 percent use less than 2GB per month.

Customers who near the newly instituted cap will be sent a notification to alert them when they reach a certain usage level. Customers who exceed the 2GB DataPro cap will pay $10 for an extra 1GB, while those who go over the 200MB DataPlus plan will pay $15 for another 200MB.

AT&T will also offer tethering for iPhone customers when Apple releases iPhone OS 4. Users will be required to relinquish their unlimited plan and sign up for a 2GB DataPro plan, as well as pay an additional $20 per month (on top of the base $25) to enable tethering.

Users will not, however, be able to tether their iPhone to their iPad. The issue exists because the iPhone can only tether over USB or Bluetooth, and the iPad cannot accept data in either of those formats. For iPhone-to-iPad tethering to become possible, Apple would have to update the software on one of the devices.