AT&T Counters T-Mobile With Rollover Data Plan - InformationWeek

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02:39 PM

AT&T Counters T-Mobile With Rollover Data Plan

AT&T responds to T-Mobile's Data Stash campaign with its own plan to let customers carry over unused data.

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T-Mobile introduced Data Stash in December and left AT&T with little choice but to respond in kind. Wednesday, AT&T announced Rollover Data. T-Mobile's Data Stash and AT&T's Rollover Data both allow customers of select plans to carry over unused data from one month to the next, though they differ in the details. AT&T's offering isn't as generous as T-Mobile's.

AT&T first conjured up the idea of rollover services nearly a decade ago with its voice minutes. Under that program, customers were able to carry over unused voice minutes from one month to the next. The voice minutes rarely expired, which often led to customers building up monstrous caches of unused voice minutes. A decade ago voice minutes were what people paid for, not access to high-speed data. In fact, it's an interesting reversal. Years ago customers could get unlimited 3G data for $30 a month, but paid through the teeth for voice minutes. Now, voice minutes are unlimited and people pay through the teeth for 4G data services.

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AT&T's Rollover Data program is somewhat similar to its old voice rollover service. Rollover Data automatically rolls unused data over for a period of just one month. Customers who only use 4 GB of a 5-GB monthly plan, for example, will see that unused 1 GB added to their total data allotment for the following month. Though the customer will have access to 6 GB of data, they will have to consume their entire normal 5 GB allotment first before they can access that rollover data. The Rollover Data -- in this case 1 GB -- will expire at the end of the second month.

AT&T said it will automatically enroll all its Mobile Share Value plan subscribers in Rollover Data beginning January 25. This encompasses the bulk of its post-paid customers, or about 50 million people. AT&T says all Mobile Share Value customers will get Rollover Data, no matter how much data they subscribe to, and it is available at no additional charge. Moreover, the rolled-over data is shareable within family members and accounts and can be accessed across multiple lines and devices on any given plan. AT&T Mobile Share Value customers will be able to view their Rollover Data balance on the MyAT&T app or online.

T-Mobile's Data Stash program functions differently. To start, T-Mobile added a 10-GB reservoir of data to its eligible customers' accounts. T-Mobile's rollover data is good for a period of one year, not one month. For many, this may have a snowball effect, generating huge stashes of unused data by the end of the first year. For T-Mobile customers, this could allow them to reduce the amount of data to which they subscribe and thereby lower their bills.

AT&T's move is clearly meant to prevent customers from defecting to T-Mobile, which, by the way, claims to have won 8.1 million new customers from its competitors during the past year.

The real question now is whether or not Sprint and Verizon Wireless will respond. Sprint still offers its customers unlimited data each month, so it is unlikely to follow suit. Verizon, however, is another story. It may be forced to introduce a similar program lest it fall out of step with the competition.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Strategist
1/8/2015 | 10:48:51 PM
Re: Voice versus data
I think I'll stick with trakfone... it's a little more expensive a minute but I don't use all that much date or voice time on it and it just keeps rolling over and over..... I have 463 service days at the moment to use up whatever is still on there from the last time I bought 120 minutes time for it over a month ago.  I normally only have to buy minutes every couple of months. 
David Wagner
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/8/2015 | 10:41:51 AM
What Took So Long?
Obviously this is a good idea and I'm surprised it took so long. It must be a sign that infrastructure is finally catching up with demand. 

Now here's the quesiton I have-- can I roll over all those months I had unlimited data and never used it all up? :)
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 5:18:49 PM
Sprint vs Verizon
I don't know if Sprint sent the email to all the carriers, but apparently they are going after some carriers. Sprint sent an email to my friend that they guarantee they will cut a cell bill in half with unlimited text and talk and brand new phones and they will buy out the person's current plan (up to $350, I believe). I would love to take them on  but I live in Verizon central. Sprint does not work, really at all, where I live.
User Rank: Author
1/7/2015 | 4:58:09 PM
Re: Voice versus data
"Too bad these plans don't just conform to my usage per month," How woudl such a plan work, @Danielcawrey? Do you mean you want to pay for your usage or have a set amount that would cover even your heaviest usage?
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2015 | 4:30:26 PM
Voice versus data
I remember the days when I had to try to figure out how many voice minutes I would user per month in order to select a wireless plan. Now, I don't use the actual phone on my smartphone so instead I'm dealing with how much data I use while out and about and while tethering. Too bad these plans don't just conform to my usage per month, that's all I've got to say. 
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