Speaking at this year's CTIA Wireless trade show executives from AT&T have expressed company plans to offer a shared family data plan.
"The company has a firm hold on what type of plan it will offer and intends to offer one soon," said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T's mobile business. de la Vega says the company is working out the details of such plans stating “we’ll introduce them when we can.” But as of yet the company has no firm launch date.
AT&T is not alone in the venture to offer family a bit more bang for their data buck. Verizon is reportedly also planning to join the fray. Speaking at a at a Deutsche Bank conference earlier this year Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said the carrier will launch a family data plan by midyear (PDF).
Both companies are likely looking at family data plans as a way to boost sales of devices specifically non-traditional cellular devices like connected tablets. A shared data plan will allow consumers to share data by multiple devices which could help the average family save tons on their current plans. Most plans we see now are set on a per device basis and cost upwards of $30/mo. Adding in a lower cost alternative could help push sales of more phones but also add in a plethora of other devices.
Verizon's concept of a shared plan extends a bit further into the future well beyond phones, tablets and even laptops.
"Let's just take a household," Shammo said. "So you have a family; they have tablets; they have notebooks; they have their smartphones. Then you have to start thinking about then you have a washer and dryer, you have a refrigerator, and people are going to want to start to communicate with all of those devices. So when you think about connecting the devices to the network, it's more than just a smartphone and a tablet."
Certainly AT&T is also looking at the new plans to work in conjunction with their newly announced home automation project, AT&T Digital Life. I could definitely see them working on cellular enabled Appliance power controls, digital cameras and alarm systems.
Source: CNet News - AT&T Mobility CEO: Family data plan coming soon
Verizon to offer shared family data plan by midyear