AT&T said this week that it will roll out an expanded cadre of shared-data plans. With 30GB, 40GB and 50GB buckets of data, these Mobile Share plans are targeted at small businesses.
The plans will set a business back $300, $400 and $500 per month, respectively. The carrier also is offering a new Business Pooled Nation plan, which allows organizations that need data sharing for more than 25 devices to get a bucket ranging from 300 MB to 10 GB, with monthly prices from $20 to $80 for eligible devices.
It seems at least partially like a money grab to one industry insider – but one that could pay off for the carrier and even benefit businesses in the long run.
“For AT&T, the end game is clearly to train customers to swallow a fee for each device added and an evolution to larger and larger buckets," noted Yankee Group senior analyst Rich Karpinski, commenting specifically on an Engadget article. "So far, it’s doing a good job. But bumping up the bucket sizes to as much as 50 GB and rolling out SMB plans supporting as many as 25 devices adds a bit of sticker shock to the monthly fees (not to mention even more plan math complexity). For an individual with big data needs, an unlimited plan from a rival probably makes more financial sense. But for SMBs, sharing those buckets among a large group of users adds an economy of scale that makes those fees more palatable."
Karpinski says smartphone penetration among general consumers is getting saturated, so the SMB market might be "an untapped opportunity" for the likes of AT&T and its competitors to "bring them on board by the dozens."
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