Mobile data sharing: now big in Europe

Back in September 2013 I remarked that shared data plans were still relatively rare in Europe, with TeliaSonera and EE the two primary examples of companies already offering some sort of plan that allowed mobile data bundles to be shared among two or more devices.

While data sharing plans--also known as data multi-SIM plans where they involve the addition of extra SIM cards to existing mobile data contracts--had already been widely adopted in the U.S., with large shared data buckets proving to be popular LTE pricing strategies of the market's mobile operators, they were slow to take off in Europe. This was attributed to various reasons from concerns about the potential demands on billing platforms to fears that such plans would dilute mobile data revenue in a nascent LTE market.

Now, if you take a closer look at the various smartphone and mobile data plans of European operators, you'll see that data sharing--and here I define it as mobile data plans with at least one extra SIM card to share a data bundle between two devices--is in fact thriving as an increasing number of operators adopt various forms of this pricing and marketing approach.

In the Czech Republic, for example, all three operators have launched some form of data sharing since July. Vodafone Czech Republic is admittedly the only one of the three operators to include data sharing as a free option under its Red plans, but both O2 Czech Republic and T-Mobile Czech Republic now offer bolt-on options to their smartphone and tablet plans for a small monthly fee. T-Mobile CZ has also launched a family plan that allows up to five SIM cards to share a data allowance of up to 3 GB.

Slovakia is also hot for data sharing: Slovak Telekom, Orange Slovakia and O2 Slovakia also now offer some form of shared data.

This growing phenomenon is observable elsewhere: all four of Spain's mobile operators offer some form of data sharing: Movistar offers it as a bolt-on multi-SIM option for a fee; Orange Spain allows smartphone data to be shared with a tablet for just €1 a month extra; Yoigo includes a data multi-SIM option in its smartphone tariffs; and Vodafone Spain offers data sharing as an inclusive multi-SIM option in the Vodafone Red XL plan, and as a bolt-on option.

In fact, Vodafone is increasingly including shared data in its Red smartphone plans within a number of its national markets including the UK, where the new Red+ plans now include data sharing.

In fact there are now almost too many countries to mention in Europe where data sharing or multi-SIM is now available. However you define it, Europe's operators certainly seem increasingly keen on data sharing or multi-SIM as part of their LTE data offerings.--Anne

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