AT&T won't match T-Mobile's free data on the iPad Air, at least for now

The company will charge between $5 and $50 for its tablet data plans

Apple's iPad Air

Apple's iPad Air

AT&T won't be matching T-Mobile's offer of free wireless data for the iPad Air when the device debuts at the company's stores across the U.S. next month.

AT&T, the country's second-largest cellular carrier, said it will offer a US$100 discount to customers who sign a two-year contract for tablet data service.

For customers who don't want to sign a contract, AT&T will offer recently announced plans costing between $5 for 250MB of data for one day and $50 for 5GB for one month. Those customers won't get the $100 discount.

Subscribers will also be able to add the iPad Air to an existing data plan for an additional $10 per month.

On Wednesday, T-Mobile said it will give tablet owners 200MB of data per month for no cost. Once that's used up, customers will have the option of paying $5 for 500MB of data for one day or $10 for 1GB of data for a week.

T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest of the country's four major carriers, is aggressively courting customers with cheaper pricing plans. It recently said customers heading overseas would get unlimited 2G data at no additional cost.

A spokesman for AT&T declined to comment on T-Mobile's announcement.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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