AT&T’s Shared Plan
After eliminating its unlimited data plan for new subscribers in 2010, the growth of AT&T as a mobile and wireless service slowed considerably. While customers who had been grandfathered in through the original offer were still allowed to continue unlimited service, their rates skyrocketed to $120 a month for data alone. It costs customers an additional $30 a month for every smart phone used. Recently, following the lead of Verizon, the service company has introduced a mobile share plan. AT&T executives state in the first five weeks alone, two million people signed up for this new policy.
The data share plan allows customers to share a certain amount of data each month with other people included in their plan as well as with other devices, such as tablets and laptops. The service comes with voice and text messaging for a flat fee, with more expensive plans that offer more data. It is also now a tiered service. Customers who do not use much data can subscribe to the smallest tier of service, with the higher tiers offering larger service bundles.
Although AT&T hasn’t cut off any customers using the unlimited plan, it has been doing all it can do discourage heavy usage. Last year, the company began slowing down the download capacity of heavy users on the unlimited plan. As of March of this year, AT&T clarified its policy of heavy use, throttling only those who used more than 2 GB a month in use.
The mobile share plan is designed for customers who wish to add more devices to their wireless service, increasing the need for more data. Under the old plan structure, consumers were hesitant to sign up for separate data plans for devices like tablets. Now they can simply add these devices to their plans for a nominal fee.
AT&T plans to further upgrade their services by the year 2013, by allowing its customers to use the services for monitoring their homes and provide entertainment within their vehicles. Customers seem to be enjoying the flexibility in AT&T’s new policies. Fewer customers have been leaving its services, and many have signed up for top tier plans. However, only a 155,000 new customers signed up for the company’s services last month; which is ten times less than its rival, Verizon. AT&T may still have to come up with a few more ideas if it wants continued healthy growth as a competitive mobile and wireless service.