AT&T is taking the wraps off a new pricing option specifically for owners of Airstream travel trailers that offers unlimited wireless services for $360 per year. The plan is the latest indication that AT&T is looking to expand its service offerings far beyond phones via a variety of pricing options, and is also noteworthy considering it does not have any throttling restrictions.
“Turn your Airstream into a powerful Wi-Fi hotspot on the nation's best network for video streaming,” the carrier boasts on its website. In a press release, AT&T touts that users can also remotely monitor and control parts of their Airstream, such as the vehicle's water tanks and awning.
AT&T said that its LTE services are built into select models of 2019 Airstream RVs, and that customers can choose between a $25 per month plan that offers 5 GB of LTE-powered Wi-Fi or a year of unlimited Wi-Fi data for $360. Both options require customers to already have a line of mobile service with AT&T as well as a compatible Airstream (AT&T added that Airstream plans to launch an after-market solution for other RVs this fall).
Interestingly, an AT&T representative confirmed to FierceWireless that the carrier's new “Airstream Connect” service is not subject to the data restriction applied to many of the operator's other unlimited services. On its smartphone plans, as well as its hotspot plans for connected cars, AT&T warns that network data speeds may be slowed after a customer uses 22 GB per month. That throttling restriction doesn't apply to AT&T's new unlimited service for Airstream RVs, the carrier said.
Nonetheless, the new plans represent an expansion to AT&T’s already sizable connected car strategy. The company currently offers built-in Wi-Fi hotspots (via LTE connections) across a wide range of vehicle models from automakers like BMW, Ford, Vovo and others. The company generally charges existing mobile customers an extra $20 per month for unlimited data, though on those connected car plans the company said that it may slow network speeds for customers who use more than 22 GB in a month.
And automakers are clearly keen to expand that business; Ford recently reiterated its plans to include full 4G LTE connectivity to all models by the end of next year.
Further, those connected cars are clearly driving activations among wireless network operators. According to research firm Chetan Sharma Consulting, 2017 was a landmark year for the wireless industry because, for the first time, operators added more cars than phones during the period. And in the first quarter of 2018, Chetan Sharma reported that fully 90% of the U.S. wireless industry’s net customer additions came from connected cars and other IoT devices.
In the second quarter, AT&T said it added 3 million “connected devices” to its network, devices ranging from cars to watches.
Thus, AT&T appears to be tamping out a strategy in which it offers different service plans for different types of devices: For example, Apple Watch customers can pay $10 a month to AT&T for service to their devices.
Article updated Sept. 19 with details from AT&T's press release and commentary from a carrier representative.