AT&T data fees to jump in new shared plan option
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc is following bigger rival Verizon Wireless with a new type of family plan that will significantly raise its fees for data services, such as mobile Internet.
But, unlike its rival, AT&T said the plan will be an option, rather than a requirement, for new customers. AT&T customers and some Verizon customers upgrading to a new phone will also be able to keep their old plans, the companies said.
Late in August, AT&T will launch the new offering, which allows customers of the No. 2 U.S. mobile provider to buy a single data plan for up to 10 devices, and includes unlimited phone calls and text messages.
While some customers who talk and text a lot could save money under the plan, others will end up paying quadruple their current fee for data.
For example AT&T will charge $40 for 1 gigabyte of data per month, compared with its current rate of $30 for 3 gigabytes. And if customers go over their allowance they will have to pay $15 for each additional gigabyte they use up from $10.
The hope is that the new plan, similar to one kicked off by Verizon Wireless in June, will entice individuals and families to connect more devices such as tablet computers to the AT&T network because they will no longer have to buy a separate monthly data allowance for each mobile device.
Since young consumers are making fewer phone calls in favor of communicating via data services such as Skype or Facebook, AT&T, like Verizon Wireless, is overhauling its pricing in a bid to boost revenue from data services and to preempt a drop in voice revenue.
Pivotal Research analyst Steve Sweeney expects the companies' plans to increase overall revenue over the long term, though it may reduce average revenue per customer slightly in the short term. Continued...