C Spire Wireless said it will launch shared data plans starting Dec. 3, becoming the third U.S. carrier to do so after Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). The plans are similar in pricing to those of the two Tier 1 carriers, but regional operator C Spire said that it will allow customers to top up their data buckets mid-month with a range of "passes" so they do not incur overage charges for exceeding their limit.
C Spire's plans, dubbed simply "Shared Data," include unlimited voice, texting and picture messaging and a shared data allowance that starts at 1 GB for $50. Customers can share the data bucket with up to 10 devices. Like Verizon and AT&T, C Spire is charging monthly line access fees of $20 for USB modems, tablets and other connected devices, $30 for feature phones and $40 for smartphones. Customers can choose shared data allowances ranging from $50 a month for 1 GB up to $150 for 20 GB, and larger quantities of monthly shared data can be purchased if needed.
C Spire said customers can top up their shared data buckets with data passes as needed throughout the month. The passes start at $10 for 500 MB and range up to $75 for an extra 5 GB. Verizon and AT&T charge $15 per GB if customers exceed their data limit on their shared plans. The C Spire shared plans are open to new and existing customers.
C Spire's fee structure is similar in many respects to those of Verizon and AT&T. For example, under Verizon's Share Everything plans, the monthly access fee for smartphones is $40 per device, feature phones cost $30, USB modems, Jetpack mobile hotspots and netbooks cost $20 and tablets cost $10. AT&T's Mobile Share plans are similar. However, AT&T does not require new smartphone customers to sign up for the plans and Verizon does.
Verizon said in October that more than 13 percent of its customer base had opted for the new plans, higher than it expected.
Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA have criticized shared data plans as too confusing and expensive.
- see this release
- see this C Spire page
Verizon's Q3 service margin hits 50% as customers flock to Share Everything plans
C Spire launches LTE service in Mississippi
Sprint: Verizon and AT&T's shared data plans are more expensive
AT&T follows Verizon with 'Mobile Share' shared data plans
Verizon launches shared data plans, as T-Mobile knocks them