AT&T Has Shared Data Plans in the Works

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AT&T logoAT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said his company has plans for shared data offerings for customers. He shared that tidbit during an interview at the AllThingsD D9 conference this week, but didn’t offer up much in the way of details.

Mr. de la Vega noted that consumers are carrying more portable devices thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and iPad, and they want to be online with all of them.

“You may want a shared plan. We’re working on one,” he said. “It will be soon. I can’t comment on a quarter [when it will launch] but it will be soon.”

Mr. de la Vega didn’t say how customers would be able to use a shared data plan. Presumably, they would be able to use a single 3G wireless data plan with their smartphone and tablet, and a mobile 3G hotspot device.

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I have four smartphones on my AT&T family plan (3 iPhones, 1 BB) plus one Samsung without a data plan. Two of the iPhone plans are the original unlimited while the other two plans are the base 200MB ($15) versions. That adds up to $90/mo. As a “family” we haven’t ever reached 2GB/mo, although I got close to 1GB one time. When don’t we reduce our unlimited plans to 2GB plans? For $5/mo, who cares. The 200MB plans have been close on multiple occasions, including the first month when the iPhone wasn’t configured properly to use wireless when available (especially at home) and lots of photos were sent. We caught it in time and configured her iPhone properly.

I would love to see a 2GB shared plan among family plan users. I see that as a base amount but wouldn’t want to pay more than $50/mo for it. I already pay $30/mo for the unlimited family-plan messaging feature. Maybe put the two together and charge $60/mo for unlimited texting and 2GB data and I think a lot of family plan users would be very excited.

I doubt Mr. de la Vega reads these comments but in case he does, I would welcome a family plan data plan and would continue as a long-time PacBell, Cingular, AT&T customer.

Lee Dronick

Yeah with two iPhones and DSL service from AT&T I would love to save some money with a shared data plan. Also if you are going to have data use tiers then please let the unused bandwidth rollover.

I suppose that there are accounting and FCC rules that make it harder to bring AT&T Mobile and AT&T DSL data use together.

Ross Edwards

Definitely agreed.  Right now, the wife and I have separate Verizon unlimited data plans because we both use our phones quite a bit and I don’t want to go over some arbitrary threshold and owe a second mortgage on my house because I checked my Facebook three times too many.  Plus, the iPad 3G offerings are essentially out of the question—just too much cost for marginal extra utility, even though it is something we would love to buy and use.

If Verizon charged $40 per month for an entire account’s data with a reasonable limit and rollover, or even $50 per month for a nice high limit, not only would you see my wife and I with iPhones using it, but there would be 3G iPads, and two more iPhones for my parents who also are on my account and currently only have feature-phones (or as we used to call them, phones).  Want to sell more hardware, Apple and Verizon?  Let us USE IT.

A combined plan costing more than $50 will be a non-starter, and will have us clinging to our $30-per-phone unlimited plans until the contracts end.

Heck, you could make it $100 per month if it were still unlimited and would extend also to home use.  I would love to drop Cox Cable and just have one data provider.  Presumably 4G LTE to home and 3G on all the mobile devices until the eventual upgrades.  But you can’t limit home data use in this day and age of Netflix streaming or you aren’t going to have many takers.


A question to MacObserver followers:

How many of you try and use WiFi over 3G/4G as your preferred method of accessing data?

I try and find a WiFi hotspot as much as possible although some of them, especially those free ones at airports, are slower than 3G. I don’t track my WiFi usage but I’m sure it’s much higher than cellular data and probably well over a couple of GB/mo.


Guess I took too long to edit my last post. I found a nice app called Data Usage and spent $0.99. I configured it and performed a few minor WiFi accesses, including updating two apps. I checked and I already had 25MB of WiFi usage. Without WiFi, I can see how people would burn through their monthly cellular allowance in no time. This is why I try and find hotspots as often as possible.

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