AT&T Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega teased his company’s customers at the D9 conference this week by announcing they are “working on” shared data plans that would allow users to save up their minutes and data plans between their devices… but when will they be available?
Shared data plans would allow users to subscribe to one plan which they can use across a number of different devices. You pay one monthly fee and get a unified pool of minutes and data which you can then share between your iPhone, your iPad and your AT&T netbook.
However, according to Engadget, de la Vega gave no indication of when users can take advantage of this service or how much it might cost. They noted:
… it certainly sounds like this is something that’s still a ways out from actually being launched.
Despite being the exclusive provider of the iPhone for years in the U.S. before the device also launched on Verizon this February, AT&T has continued to fall behind by not providing the same services that are already offered by its rivals. The company did not introduce Wi-Fi tethering to the iPhone until the device launched on Verizon, and then it was forced to follow in Verizon’s footsteps. If AT&T doesn’t hurry up with its shared data plans, it could be behind Verizon with those, too.
At the Reuters Global Technology Summit last month, Fran Shammo, Verizon’s chief financial officer, revealed that shared data plans were inevitable:
We had individual minutes for individual users. Then we eventually got to what we call family share where everyone in the family shares the same minutes. I think it’s safe to assume that at some point you are going to have mega-plans (for data) and people are going to share that mega-plan based on the number of devices within their family. That’s just a logical progression.
So, there you go – you’ll certainly get shared data plans in the U.S., but when they’ll come is a mystery right now.