AT&T ready to introduce shared data plans "soon"

By on May 9, 2012, 9:30 AM

In a chat with CNET, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega all but confirmed plans to introduce a shared data package soon. It's been known for some time that the carrier is considering the option, but details of its roll out have remained foggy.

In January, de la Vega said the implementation was taking longer than expected because of issues with IT and billing systems. A month later, an internal memo revealed that the system AT&T employees use to manage customer accounts was updated to include controls for shared data, suggesting it was nearing completion.

In the latest update, de la Vega was reportedly more confident than in January, saying he's "very comfortable with the plan that will be offered" and that AT&T has a solid grasp on what the plan will be -- though it's still not ready to share more details.

The basics are obvious: you'll pay for a pool of data that covers multiple wireless devices, instead of having a pricey data plan for each gadget. Further information is unknown, but it's suggested that AT&T may be pushing to beat its largest rival to the punch.

In May 2011, Verizon said shared data plans were a "logical progression." A leak in January revealed training material for an update to the carrier's internal account management system -- not unlike the information that slipped out about AT&T in February, so it's probably safe to assume both outfits are at a similar stage of implementation.

Shared data is pitched as a win-win: users and families with multiple devices should save a few bucks on their wireless bill, while carriers should sell more devices as data plans become cheaper and easier to manage. With that in mind, it wouldn't be surprising to see AT&T and/or Verizon unveil their shared data offerings alongside a major device launch in hopes of boosting sales.

It'll be interesting to see what "catches" accompany with each service -- overage booby traps, for instance. Although savings may be possible in some scenarios, we don't expect the shared plan to offer a better value for everyone. For instance, T-Mobile's single-line data plan costs $80 a month for 2GB of high-speed data (usage is unlimited after that, but speeds are throttled). The two-line plan costs $140 (a $20 savings!) but both devices share the same 2GB soft cap, which could be annoying for heavy users.




User Comments: 6

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psycros psycros said:

Oh, I'm sure ol' Ralphie is "comfortable" with any plan that slams you into that "extra $10 per gb" wall faster. AT&T knows where it can put its ludicrous pricing, its joke of a network and its never-updated(tm) phones.

Tygerstrike said:

Actually this might not be a bad idea for the consuming public. Im pretty sure each device will have a gig number assigned to it. Smart phones and tablets maybe get a 3 gig per device rateing so if you and your partner both have a smartphone you would get 6 gigs to share between you. Yea this will prolly screw with the super users not grandfathered in to a unlimted data package.

A buddy of mine "accidently" went over his data limit with AT&T, by about 60 gigs. He is still paying that bill off. So maybe this wont be a bad thing.

Scshadow said:

Judgement is reserved for when real details come but skepticism is to be deserved. I have a hard time imagining that suddenly at&t will stop the pattern of charging more for less.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Hey, I'd be happy with sharing a single 2GB plan with my wife. As it is right now, we're both capped at 200MB, and it's pretty easy to go over when using maps for an extended period of time.

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

It costs pennies to transmitt data over a wirless network... Pennies .... These prices are just astronomical in price to pay... thats why I do not do it...

I pay 40 bucks a month for 250 gig a month on the broadband cable, and if I go over that oh wow, they won't charge me more...no ...

Transmitting data take very very very little money.... Believe me they are so over pricing the data plans... it is a fraking joke those prices... I will never pay that, knowing truely what it costs to transmitt data... fraking phone companies...

Scshadow said:

It costs pennies to transmitt data over a wirless network... Pennies .... These prices are just astronomical in price to pay... thats why I do not do it...

I pay 40 bucks a month for 250 gig a month on the broadband cable, and if I go over that oh wow, they won't charge me more...no ...

Transmitting data take very very very little money.... Believe me they are so over pricing the data plans... it is a fraking joke those prices... I will never pay that, knowing truely what it costs to transmitt data... fraking phone companies...

You're definitely over simplifying the issue. Sorry but cellular wireless isn't the same as home broadband. Home broadband is a line all to yourself. A cell tower is one internet connection routed out to thousands of devices. The issue is bandwidth and not the literal cost to transmit a signal. They don't have enough to give it out unlimited to consumers demand. If you do, the network gets congested and no one is happy with their service.

Not to mention, your data plans aren't just for paying for the data. They're for paying off your subsidized phones. Want lower plans? Need to outlaw subsidized phones. Which I think would be good. People pay down payments on houses and cars and its kinda like a gut check. Can you really afford to buy something if you can't afford the down payment? That should be phones. If you can't spend $600 on a phone, you shouldn't be opening a cell phone contract.

Anyway, the situation is not simple, the solution is not simple, but that still doesn't justify the way these carriers all agree to treat their customers.

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