Shared Mobile Data Plans – Savings Opportunities at A Cost

Guest post by Joe Basili – TEMIA

Telecom Expense Management, TEM and Wireless Expense Management just got more interesting with Verizon Wireless announcing its Share Everything Plans for pooling of mobile data plans. These plans offer potential savings, but subscribers will need to do some analysis to determine if it is worth giving up their unlimited data plan.

Mobile subscribers will now be able to share data allotments among different devices.The plans also have unlimited voice minutes and unlimited messages. For $50 subscribers can share a 1 GB data allowance for $50. Customers can add a tablet on their Share Everything Plans for an additional $10, with no long-term contract requirement. AT&T has also been talking about data pooling. It will be interesting to see how Sprint responds.

Mobile data pooling is already offered by mobile providers in Australia and other parts of Asia Pacific such as Japan, South Korea, Western Europe and Canada. Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility in Canada, Telefónica Movistar in Spain, and Orange Mobistar and Proximus in Belgium have launched multi-device plans:

  • Vodaphone and Telstra offer shared mobile data plans in Australia
  • Orange Austria, France, Spain: Since Spring 2011, Orange has been offering two devices per data plan, bundling 600 minutes,unlimited texts, unlimited BTZone WiFi access, and 2GB shared data across both devices—iPad and iPhone are named specifically as available devices; cost is £99/month at 16GB rate.
  • Vodafone Ireland offers shared mobile broadband for business users with a 5GB limit, shared across however many users is required, for a fee of €7.50 per connection per month, with each additional increment of 5GB being another €10.
  • Optus offers a plan connecting five users each on a 4GB shared plan, with 20GB of data pooled between those five users each month.
  • Rogers Wireless offers various plans: 1GB + unlimited social networking to seven popular sites for $30/month; 4GB + unlimited social networking to seven popular sites for $50/month; options to add an additional 1GB for $15/month or to add voice.

Wireless service providers need to change subscribers behavior. They want to curb users that consume too much data. In addition, they need to tap into the tablet market. Currently, 95% of tablets that are sold only have Wi-Fi. This is not good for carriers because they are missing out on the tablet market, which is a huge growth area that does not include carrier data plans.

Subscribers will need to determine if having mobile data for multiple devices is worth giving up unlimited data plans. Enterprises will also need to determine if they can save money by pooling employees’ data plans together. Many organizations will find that there are savings for some employees. For other road warriors, unlimited data plans will be more cost effective. It is critical to perform the analysis before you make the change. What do you think?  If you don’t have time to perform the analysis ask a Telecom Expense Management, TEM, Wireless Expense Management, WEM firm to help.