May 8, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
Verizon might not be the only major U.S. carrier to offer shared family data plans this year. In an interview with CNET, AT&T Mobile CEO Ralph de la Vega confirmed that his company is also gearing up to deliver data plans that would allow subscribers to split their monthly data across multiple devices or users.
De la Vega declined to offer specifics about the plan or when it would be released, but he did make comments that gave the impression that AT&T is much closer to finalizing the system than it was a few months ago. AT&T had previously raised concerns about shared data plans because of issues with account billing and backend technology. Those issues appear to have been addressed according to CNET’s Roger Cheng, who described de la Vega as “far more confident” about AT&T’s ability to offer shared data plans.
A shared data plan would enable subscribers to enjoy their devices and diminish worries about overages. Under AT&T’s current system, customers on a family plan still have individual limits on their phones; Mom, Dad, Timmy, and Tanya each have a cap of 3 GB (or more if signed up for a higher tiered data plan) and are throttled or charged extra for going over that cap. A shared data plan would set the family at a cumulative 12 GB cap, so Timmy and Tanya could do more on their phones since Mom and Dad only consume about 1 GB each.
AT&T’s closest competition, Verizon, has already declared it expects to have family data plans as an option this summer. T-Mobile has showed no signs of following suit, and Sprint doesn’t set a hard cap for data usage.