First we had unlimited data plans for our basic 1st gen smartphones, then as Androids and 2nd-3rd gen iPhones came out the amount of data the public was consuming was both clogging carriers and also opening a door to a whole new revenue stream.
That begat the tiered data plan, and now we we’re starting to see the “shared” data plan.
Verizon intro’d their “Share Everything” plan in June, AT&T rolled their’s out last week. It’s called, “Mobile Share”. The idea is that you buy a block of data per month for a flat fee, and then you pay an additional amount for each device you link to that bucket of data. All of your wireless devices share from that block of data and in theory it’s supposed to be a better plan than individual account for each device. Maybe it will be down the road, but right now the numbers don’t always appear to prove that out. The idea the carriers are trying is they want you to not only use their service exclusively for all your wireless devices, but they also want you to feel like its easier to buy a tablet, gaming device or car entertainment system with 3G/4G connectivity without having to worry about “another data account”. This is probably the account model of the future but it is very important you spent the time looking at your options before someone from any company just talks you into it.
For example AT&T’s new plans start at $85 for a single gig of data. That is a crazy number. It goes up to $230 for 20 gig, and that’s crazy too, but if you consider that you may have 3-5 devices all pulling from that same block, and also splitting the costs you see how the pricing becomes not too dissimilar to what most are paying per device, per data plan right now.
Wired has a good break down of costs to review. And there are other links below. You’re going to start hearing more and more of these new data plans as carriers really begin to capitalize on the fact that smartphones are less and less used as phones and more as internet connections to the web. This is where providers will make the meat of their revenues in the future and will have to finance the build out of their systems that will only continue to demand more and more bandwidth as technology demands it.
You pay per usage for electricity and water – and the day is coming that your data will also only be billed in this same manner.