Executives from both AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) hinted that the industry is moving toward a pricing paradigm for mobile data that will allow customers to purchase a single bucket of data for multiple devices, such as smartphones and media tablets.
The statements, made by the executives at AllThingsD's D: Dive Into Mobile conference, did not amount to any formal announcements, but do suggest that such a concept is picking up momentum within the industry. The nation's wireless carriers continue to expand their mobile data business to gadgets beyond phones.
Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T's emerging devices division, said the carrier is trying to determine the right rate plan for situations when multiple devices--such as USB modems, smartphones and tablets--are used by one customer or among family members. "Family plans were born because there were three or four devices in the house," he said. "We're obviously looking like that."
He said one solution might be a bucket of data shared among four or five devices, and said AT&T is examining where such a concept might go. "The pace of innovation is getting faster," he said. "We're constantly talking to our customers. We've heard that question once or twice."
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said "everybody in the industry is looking at it right now." He said there is a value in simplicity, and noted that two years ago, simplicity meant keeping track of only one device in terms of mobile data. "Multiple new devices, that's the next step," he said.
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AT&T has 7 million usage-based pricing subscribers