Multiple-mobile-device Internet access Archive

AT&T follows T-Mobile in providing data-allowance rollover

Article

AT&T is the next US carrier to let you roll over unused mobile data | Engadget

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 press picture courtesy of Samsung

AT&T to provide a data rollover package like T-Mobile

From the horse’s mouth

AT&T

Press Release

My Comments

After T-Mobile had done it with their Data Stash plan, one of the other US carriers has opted in to the idea of data plans that allow you to use last month’s unused data allowance. Here, old AT&T had provided the Rollover Data feature to their new and existing Mobile Share Value customers no matter the plan they currently reside on.

But they don’t have the same kind of option that T-Mobile has where you could “harbour” a large quantity of unused data allowance to do something like a huge download or video-stream session. Instead you can only use last month’s surplus after you use up this month’s allowance.

What I see of this is that those who offer bandwidth on an allowance-based model could dabble in the idea of an “unused allowance rollover” scheme. Here, the providers could allow one to harbour a significant amount of unused data or simply limiting this allowance to last month’s surplus.

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Shared and family mobile data plans to come to Australia

Article

Mobile Data Sharing Plans Coming | Telstra | The Age (Australia)

My Comments

I have covered “shared” and “family” mobile data plans previously on HomeNetworking01.info, infact with a summary article of where things are at with these plans along with fixed-line broadband plans for occasionally-occupied premises. It can rectify situations where you have more allowance on one device but not on another which was something I came across with a friend of mine where I had to coax their iPhone to tether properly with their PC so they can use that device’s allowance.

These plans typically allow a user to have multiple devices such as a smartphone, tablet, “Mi-Fi” or USB wireless-broadband modem share the same data allowance pool. The “shared” plan is typically for devices owned by one customer while the “family” plan allows devices belonging to members of the same family or household  to share the same allowance.

Now Telstra is making a commitment to offer these kind of plans to their customers because of the activity that is taking place in US and Europe with the plans. Here, analysts were saying that people would buy increased data allowances for these plans rather than buying the standard allowances provided for the individual devices. Of course, customers would backpedal on their data usage as they get close to the end of their allowance.

Personally, I would like to see the shared plans offer things like data allowances in the order of 3Gb to 5Gb to allow people to buy “buffer space” on their plans, application-specific billing options like “all-you-can-eat” multimedia streaming from partnered services like TuneIn Radio, Foxtel Go, ABC iView or Spotify or “all-you-can-eat” mobile telephony services. Similarly, it could be easier for a person who is currently on a device-linked post-paid plan to participate in one of these plans without having to pay an early-termination fee for that device.

These plans could allow a smartphone user who is putting off buying a tablet or other mobile-broadband device because of data allowance and billing complexities to buy these devices yet manage one allowance and one account. Similarly, they could allow a mobile-data user to right-size their data allowance to represent what they really use across the board.

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Multi-line mobile contracts or fixed-line plans for partially-used buildings–what’s happening

There are two main usage classes that ISPs and telecommunciations carriers will have to cater towards when it comes to providing fixed or mobile communications and Internet service.

One is a “multi-line” mobile contract that allows multiple post-paid mobile devices to exist on the same account at cost-effective tariffs. The other is catering to fixed-line communications services that serve secondary locations, especially those that aren’t occupied on a full-time basis.

The multi-line mobile contract

The reason that the multi-line mobile contract needs to be available to home or small-business users is that most mobile-wireless-communications users will end up maintaining at lest two, if not three or more mobile communications devices.These kind of plans are typically sold to larger businesses who have a large fleet of mobile devices and are sold for a large premium with a large minimum-device requirement but they need to be available for the small number of devices that a householder or small-business owner would own.

The typical scenario would be a smartphone used for voice, SMS/MMS messaging and on-device Internet use; alongside a data-only device like a tablet or laptop that either has integrated wireless broadband or is connected to a separate wireless broadband service via a USB modem or “Mi-Fi” wireless-broadband router.

Feature that are typically offered in these contracts include a data allowance that is pooled amongst the devices and / or reduced per-device plan fees. In some cases,  the services may provide unlimited “all-you-can-eat” voice telephony and text messaging or a similar option.

An increasing number of mobile-telephony operators are tapping this market by offering these plans. For example, the two main mobile-telephony players in the USA, AT&T and Verizon are putting up shared-data plans from US$40 per month for 1Gb of data to up to US$50 for 500Gb of data on AT&T with similar pricing from Verizon. Both these companies offer unlimited talk and text for phones connected to the plan. Similar efforts have taken place with Bougyes Télécom in France and Airtel in India where they are offering shared-data plans as part of their tariff charts. There has even been rumours that Telstra was to be the first Australian mobile phone provider to run a shared-data plan for the Australian market.

Fixed-line plans for partially-used secondary locations

This user class represents people who maintain city apartments, holiday homes and seasonal homes like summer houses but don’t live in these locations on a full-time basis. Typically they are occupied for shorter periods like a weekend or a week at a time or, in the case of a seasonal home, a few consecutive months. It is known for some of these properties to be shuttered for many consecutive months at a time.

On the other hand, this market isn’t serviced readily by the fixed-line telephony, pay-TV and Internet providers, save for Orange (France Télécom) who offer a “by-the-month” package for Internet and telephony to the French market. Here they got in to a spat with SFR because SFR, who was buying wholesale service from Orange, wanted to offer a similar “by-the-month” service for these customers. On the other hand, users are sold plans that have lesser call or data allowances and may be lucky to have the option to have all the service locations on one account.

Again, larger enterprises who have many services and a large amount of call traffic fare better than smaller businesses or residential users.

These users could be satisfied with a “by-the-month” service or a seasonal plan that provides full service for a time period that is predetermined by the customer with limited service outside that time period. Such a limited service could be specified to cater for security and home-automation equipment used to monitor the secondary premises or keep it in good order.

If a plan works on call or data allowance and the user maintains services provided by the same provider at each location, there could be the ability to offer plans that have the allowances pooled across the locations. Similarly, if a user has the same service provider or a related company provide communications services to all the locations, they could offer a reduced price for all of the services. It doesn’t matter if the secondary property is on the same service plan as the primary property or on a lesser plan that has fewer services or smaller allowances.

Conclusion

What needs to happen is that telephone and Internet companies need to pay attention to customers’ needs and look for the “gaps in the market” that currently exist. This could allow for a range of tariffs that is more granular and able to suit particular needs. It also includes situations where a user is responsible for a small number of services of the same kind whether as multiple wireless-broadband devices or fixed-line services serving two or more properties.

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