AT&T cuts overage fees and intros new data plans

AT&T data plans
Telecom network operator AT&T Inc. has introduced a new data plan without overage fees and reduces data speeds for wireless customers going past their data allowance.

The plan available from Sunday aids customers to choose the new Mobile Share Advantage plan wherein they can pay for extra data, and in case not work with slower data speeds instead of paying for overages.

The present plan charges a $5 data overage per 300 megabytes on its 300-megabyte plan and $15 per 1 gigabyte on the rest.

The No. 2 U.S wireless provider said on Wednesday that the current market atmosphere is that of stiff competition for subscribers in the saturated U.S. wireless market and data overage charges have been an issue for wireless customers spending time and data on their mobile devices watching streaming video services such as Netflix and playing games such as Pokemon Go.

Only last month, Verizon Communications Inc has revealed a feature called “safety mode” protecting users against data overages and slows down speeds.

“In a competitive market, Verizon Wireless and AT&T cannot afford to ignore each other. If one does something, the other one has to follow suit,” said Roger Entner, analyst at Recon Analytics.

Also, Verizon and AT&T are in a run to meet plans from other telecoms like T-Mobile, having already eliminated data overage charges in 2014, and Sprint, providing half-off discounts. T-Mobile US has added about 7 million monthly subscribers over the past two years with low prices and features like free video streaming and no overages. Verizon has replaced its overage charges last month with reduced internet speeds and hiked up data allotments on its family plans.

The carriers are introducing the price plans ahead of the arrival of Apple Inc.’s new iPhone next month. Traditionally, the latest phone from Apple, combined with the holiday season is biggest period of subscriber gains for the carriers.

AT&T updated its prices and data bucket sizes, like the 25-gigabyte plan priced to $190 per month for four smartphone lines, from the earlier cost of $235 and the 30GB plan tagged at $215 per month for 4 smartphone lines compared to older $285 per month, with an option to add up to 10 lines on both plans.

AT&T said all new plans come with an access charge of $10 to $40 per month for each device. The new plans will sport unlimited text and talk and rollover data as done earlier, with plans above 10 gigabytes also offering unlimited talk and text services to Mexico and Canada customers with nil roaming charges in Mexico.

The new scheme has AT&T hiking prices for smaller data allotments while cutting down prices for large data plans. The new offer begins with as low as $30 for 1 gigabyte of data, in comparison with $30 for 2 GB, earlier.

For larger blocks like 30 GB the charges will be $135 a month, compared to older $225 tag.

AT&T is continuing to simplify pricing with new plans that eliminate data overage charges for our wireless customers.

The new Mobile Share Advantage Plans will be available from August 21, 2016, benefiting both normal consumers and business users.  After high speed data amounts are exhausted, all data usage will be reduced to a maximum of 128 kbps for the rest of their bill cycle.

New plans come with value-added benefits of the previous Mobile Share Value plans, like unlimited domestic talk and text, Rollover Data, shareable data, multiple international perks and mobile hotspot capability, with many choices for the user including more data at a lower cost per MB, with new plans varying from 1GB to 200GB.

AT&T also offers 40GB, 50GB, 60GB, 80GB and 100GB Mobile Share Advantage plans, while business customers can choose from Mobile Share Advantage for Business plan ranging from 25GB to 200GB accommodating up to 25 lines.

For smartphones with no annual contract, like those on AT&T Next, AT&T Next Every Year, or other installment agreements, customers have to pay a $20 access charge per smartphone a month for Mobile Share Advantage and $15 per smartphone line a month on Mobile Share Advantage for Business. The access charge for basic/features phones will be $20 a month per phone on both plans.

The plans and price cuts have been announced following the second quarterly results, this year, of the company showing the wireless revenue falling down by 2.1 percent at $17.9 billion, with only 185,000 phone customer additions.

Vina Krishnan
[email protected]