Nine months after it introduced its Mobile Share plans, AT&T has announced it will be offering shared data plans with 30, 40 and 50 GB per month, leading some to believe the carrier is beginning to target small businesses.
According to Engadget, the plans will cost $300, $400 and $500 per month respectively, with unlimited voice and messaging. AT&T is upping the number of devices on these plans to 15 to 25, versus the usual 10. Companies looking to add more lines can make use of the carrier’s new Business Pooled Nation plans, which offer per-device data between $20 and $80 per month for 300 MB to 10 GB of data. Other U.S. carriers, including Sprint and T-Mobile, have begun offering new data plans specifically targeted toward small business customers.
Yankee Group Senior Analyst Rich Karpinski comments
“AT&T didn’t just add small business/enterprise shared bit buckets as part of this announcement, it also added bigger buckets for consumers as well as a new data-only (e.g., no phone) shared data option. For AT&T, the end game is clearly to train customers to swallow a fee for each device added and an evolution to larger and larger buckets. So far, it’s doing a good job. But bumping up the bucket sizes to as much as 50 GB and rolling out SMB plans supporting as many as 25 devices adds a bit of sticker shock to the monthly fees (not to mention even more plan math complexity). For an individual with big data needs, an unlimited plan from a rival probably makes more financial sense. But for SMBs, sharing those buckets among a large group of users adds an economy of scale that makes those fees more palatable.
Indeed, AT&T rivals Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have all rolled out shared data plans for SMBs in recent weeks (yes, even Sprint, which has otherwise made its name offering unlimited plans). With smartphone penetration among individual consumers reaching a saturation point, SMBs offer an untapped opportunity to not only find new smartphone/mobile broadband users, but to bring them on board by the dozens.”
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