Sometimes watching American cell phone carriers is like observing a line of monkeys - see the whole JUMP/EDGE/NEXT/whatever Sprint calls their interest-free phone financing saga. Now it's come again, this time after AT&T announced a limited promotion that doubled the data on some of its shared family plans. Verizon has matched their prices with a MORE Everything promotion that starts tomorrow, October 2nd. For the same $130 price that AT&T is offering, pre-fees, Verizon is giving family plan users 30GB of data.
Not content to fire back at the competition with just one volley, the company has continued its barrage with two new announcements. For starters, it's opening up family plans from a limit of five to up to ten lines. For most of us, that inherently means we're going to have to look outside of our immediate families to hit the max. It's time to get grandma a smartphone, call up that cheap uncle, and bring in a couple of college-bound cousins.
Competition is a wonderful thing. As the market continues to react to a push for lower prices from T-Mobile and other cellular service companies, customers are getting more and more economical options. AT&T's latest reactionary price change to its Mobile Share Value plans drops the base price by $15 for single-user plans and family plans with up to two smartphones. That makes the price $65 a month and $90 a month for one and two people, respectively.
One of the problems with the pricing structure of American carriers is that people who buy their phones outright don't get any kind of break on the service plans themselves, giving people fewer incentives to get away from subsidies. T-Mobile has addressed this (by essentially throwing out subsidies all together), but today AT&T fires back with the new Mobile Share Value Plan. Basically it's a $15 discount if you buy a phone unsubsidized, including the new AT&T Next plans, or if you've already paid off your on-contract device.
If you're a current or prospective T-Mobile customer and you're partial to using that data connection for more than one device at a time, there's good news. The gents at TmoNews got their hands on an internal memo that outlines bumps in T-Mobile's tethering policies that went into effect yesterday. Before yesterday, the $70 unlimited data plan included 500MB of of Smart Phone Mobile Hotspot (tethered data) and an option for a $30 2.5GB add-on.
Amazon's new 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD is impressive enough in its own right, thanks to high-end features and a competitive price of $299. But at the Kindle press event today, CEO Jeff Bezos announced something truly groundbreaking: a Kindle Fire with a 4G LTE connection and an unprecedented data plan. For $499 (the price of the iPad 3, among many others) you get the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, a 4G LTE data connection (almost certainly AT&T) and access to a $49.99-a-year data plan.
Looks like AT&T has been tweaking its data packages again, trying to find a way to better compete with the likes of the Sprint, T-Mobile, and VZW no doubt. The revised data plans will go into affect on January 22, and they look a little something like this:
- Data Plus 300MB: $20 for 300MB
- Data Pro 3GB: $30 for 3GB
- Data Pro 5GB: $50 for 5GB, with mobile hotspot / tethering
So, how does that compare to Ma Bell's current data rates?
With other carriers (such as Verizon and AT&T) cutting their unlimited data plans, rumblings have understandably emerged that Sprint may be planning to follow suit.
That, fortunately, is not the case according to Stephen Bye, Sprint's Chief Technology Officer. Bye addressed this topic while speaking to those attending the GigaOm Mobilize Conference in San Francisco yesterday.
Bye indicated that Sprint sees its dedication to unlimited data as a differentiator from other carriers (except when it comes to mobile hotspot, evidently), explaining that not all unlimited subscribers use the same amount of data, as well as the fact that tiered data plans carry hidden costs related to customer care and support.
Most users accustomed to unlimited data cringe upon hearing the words "tiered data plans" - but they aren't always bad. As our own David Ruddock pointed out, they don't affect most users - and they might even be cheaper for non-data hogs (aka 97% of customers).
However, in the case of the new tiered data plans Verizon Wireless is rumored to be implementing early next month, there's not much of an argument - they don't add any value whatsoever for VZW subscribers, and their sole raison d'être seems to be raping subscribers' wallets further still.