AT&T's Shared Data Not For The Enterprise - InformationWeek
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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

AT&T's Shared Data Not For The Enterprise

AT&T's new Mobile Share plans offer buckets of data that can be accessed by a number of devices on a single account. They might work for consumers and small businesses, but they're not for large enterprises.

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AT&T today announced its own version of shared data plans. The plans provide consumers with a fair amount of flexibility when it comes to matching a service plan to their individual needs. Like Verizon's shared data plans announced earlier this year, AT&T's plans bundle together voice, text, and data and allow multiple devices to share from the same pool.

The idea has merits for consumers, especially families. For example, before today, a family of four, each with his/her own smartphone, could share voice minutes, but each device had to have its own data plan -- adding significantly to the overall monthly cost of the plan. Throw in a tablet for the kids and a mobile hotspot for mom or dad, and monthly data costs can spiral upwards at a dizzying rate.

Worse, one device on the plan might use more than its monthly allotment of data, while others use only a fraction. It's hard to swallow a data overage fee at the end of the month on one device when a different device on the same account used less than half its monthly data allotment. (In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd be hopping mad about it.)

[ How do you engineer a successful mobile device management plan for the enterprise? See 6 Keys To A Flexible MDM Strategy. ]

Shared data plans from AT&T and Verizon Wireless are meant to help tackle this problem. Instead of charging each device for its own mobile data allotment, the shared plans provide larger buckets from which all the devices draw. For example, AT&T is offering monthly data buckets ranging from 1GB to 20GB, with basic access fees ranging from $40 to $200. Allowing devices such as smartphones, feature phones, laptops, tablets, hotspots, and netbooks to pull from this same bucket means it'll be easier for groups to balance data usage.

However, the idea appears to work best for a family or other small group. Consumers--and probably very small businesses--could very well save money on a monthly basis with the shared data plans. But AT&T's Mobile Share plan maxes out at 10 devices per account. That makes it unusable for most businesses.

Large enterprises--especially ones that distribute devices directly to employees--should not approach mobile services this way. Instead, they should be speaking to the enterprise sales teams at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, et al., about getting customized rates. When your business is purchasing hundreds or thousands of devices, it has a bit more wiggle room with the carriers when it comes to negotiating rates for voice minutes, messaging, and mobile broadband.

One scenario in which a shared data plan might make sense is large enterprises that use the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model. If Employee X has a smartphone, tablet, and laptop, the enterprise could provide that employee a shared data plan that covers all his/her devices rather than sticking him/her on an account that covers multiple employees.

As with most services, consumers, small businesses, and large enterprises will get different mileage from shared data plans depending on their individual circumstances and needs. While consumers and small businesses might have a bit less pull when it comes to customizing their services, big businesses should be engaging wireless network operators more directly to get the best possible rates.

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2012 | 7:20:36 PM
re: AT&T's Shared Data Not For The Enterprise
Seriously, eff AT&T, Verizon, and every single cell phone company that exists. For years, I've been telling my friends and family that cell phone minutes and text messages will become obsolete and rarely used as newer, cheaper, and infinitely better technologies come into existence via a data connection and, more importantly, are discovered by the non-computer-geek, average consumer. This will equate to a loss of revenue for these shady companies with the cell phone plans that they have today. A data connection is the only thing you need for phone calls, texting, video chat, web browsing, and even GPS (not super accurate but good enough; besides, my $50 pawn-shop-Garmin works better than the best GPS enabled phone out there), and cell phone companies know it.

Bookmark this page - Mark these words - Come back in two years:
These dildos will happily bend you over, take money out of your brown starfish, and then tell you that they deserved it with a smile on their face. They do it today (text message plans) and they'll do it tomorrow. These companies will raise the cost of data plans, throttle data speeds ("throttling" really means that your device will download slower than a 56k modem from 1996), and propagate claims that they're doing so in order improve their networks and compensate for an increased data load; which -don't get me wrong- will be partly but insignificantly true. It's already been rumored that iPhone FaceTime users will be charged an extra fee in addition to a dataplan when they want to use FaceTime over the 3G connection that the user already paid for. Yep, that's right; good ol' fashion double dipping at it's best. In two years, the raise in cost (which is happening right now) and throttling will be unwarranted and done so in order to compensate for the inevitable loss of profits from cell phone minute and text messaging plans. This, my friend, I can guarantee you.

Let's look at the history of text messaging. Text messaging plans are the internal cash cows of these companies; they're dieing fast and will become extinct sooner (rather than later) than you think. How much does your text message plan cost? 200 messages for $5? 1500 messages for $15? Maybe you don't have a text message plan and are paying $0.20 per message? Isn't it funny how, before 2008, a text message without a plan would only cost $0.10? Yep, that's right, they -literally- doubled that over night. What do you think they'll do with their data plans? "Yeah, but $0.20 per message is without a message plan!", you might interject.. True, but you're missing the point of the big picture. So here's another question: Where, in what state, country, or even on what life supporting planet, does the cost of dated technology, specifically the "dated" technology that is older than most of the millions of people that use it every day, increase with time? You get it yet? There it is.. And I didn't even have to tell you. Now you get the point. Try selling the desktop computer you bought 5 years ago for double the amount you initially paid. Next question: Why did all of these companies do this in lock-step? That's right; cold hearted and lifeless corporate greed. And yet another perfect example of when competing companies come together and set a fixed price on something -at the same effing time-. Do you remember when the big oil tycoon companies did that? It still strikes me as an odd thing when the media and people around me mention how great it is that gas prices dropped $0.10. But I guess it is what it is and people get accustomed to walking around with a Subway footlong up their O-ring. I think it's sad. A few years ago, it was estimated that a single text message costs a cell phone company $0.003. A cost -to these companies- that has -decreased- over time. Using this old company cost estimate and comparing it to the $0.01 people pay per message for a 1500/$15 message plan, this equates to a 333% increase in company profits. Would you pay $12.50 for a $3.75 gallon of milk? Why not? That's what you're doing with a text message plan.

In light of the future, these companies probably already make more than enough money in order to support the growing demand of data plans. In 2011 alone, the CEOs of both AT&T and Verizon made $20+ million in salaries and stock options. This doesn't even include 1) previous years, 2) the payouts that the top tier cronies of these companies received, and most importantly 3) the profits that these companies made, which is in the >billions<. I don't have a problem with people that make loads of money. As long as they do something that impacts the world in a positive/revolutionary way, then they deserve it. Some examples: Bill Gates - As crappy and fragmented as the Windows OS is, it still changed the way how most people do everything. Bill Gates is still doing great work over in 3rd World countries too. Steve Jobs - Yeah, Bill copied the computer idea.. But at least he revolutionized what a smartphone should be. You can't argue with it. Every smartphone out there is just an enhancement of what the original iPhone was. And the person/company that finds a cure for cancer or aids, they should automatically win every lottery in every state. But these cell phone business men are not special. In fact, they are useless, annoying middle men decorated with a candy covered shell with icing on top. These companies don't own cell phone towers, they lease bandwidth from them. They don't even own the servers that your voicemail is stored on that you can so easily access with your phone. You don't believe me? Call Verizon right now and tell Tech Support that you (or your mom that doesn't understand how to operate a phone and doesn't have visual voicemail) accidentally deleted an important voicemail and that you really need it back. They'll tell you that it's gone and that there's nothing that they can do about it. Reply with the following: "Well, don't you guys have a recycle bin or a database or something where deleted voicemails go in case you wanted to get it back?" Verizon Tech Support will then say something along the lines of: "Well, we actually don't own the voicemail servers. They're all owned and controlled by third party companies." Boom. Tell me I'm wrong. Cell phone companies are just middle men for your connection to a cell phone tower in as much the same way that a grocery store is the middle man between you and that dairy farmer where you bought a $12.50 gallon of milk from. The dairy farmer didn't charge you $12.50, the grocery store did.

Like I said, these business men will never amount to anything more than the dog sh!t I stepped in two weeks ago. But in a sense, they are somewhat of an anomaly that epitomizes what is wrong with our country today. These people have absolutely no qualms when it comes to charging someone an arm, leg, and even the tip of their penis for something that costs them next to nothing. Why are data plans increasing with time? Really, why? Answer: Because these greedy grubs want the same revenue for providing less services. Period. Dot. Trust me, "unlimited minutes and texts" will be rubber stamped to nearly every cell phone plan and the price for a data plan will skyrocket. This is because people are discovering that they don't need cell phone minutes when they have Google Talk, Line2, or Skype on their phone. The only thing that is required is a data connection. And they certainly don't need a text message plan for the same reasons. Services that revolve around advances in technology have historically become cheaper. But these dbags won't tell you that. Instead, they'll increase prices and gladly shake the remaining hand on the remaining arm you have left, watch you bounce away on one leg, and if they see that dildo sliding out, I promise you that they'll kick it back in. Trust me, they'll find a way to kick it back in.

The "Shared Data Plans" are just the beginning..
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