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February 28, 2017

Reverse Sticker Shock: AT&T Sinks Mobile Data Price

We all know sticker shock; we get it just about any time we look at a price tag for anything these days. When news emerges that the price of something has actually gone down, however, that's a cause to stand up and cheer. AT&T gave us the new reason to get up from our seats as it noted it would be lowering the price of an unlimited mobile data plan.

The new price for said plan, reports note, will now be $90 per month for a single smartphone line. That's down from $100 previously, so the cut isn't exactly pronounced but still sufficiently noteworthy. It's still not going to be enough to beat Verizon's unlimited data plan price, which was revealed earlier this month and offered an $80 price point.

AT&T's also offering a bit of a tradeoff on video pricing; customers can subscribe to video service plans like DirecTV or DirecTV Now, and though the prices are a bit higher, there's a $25 video credit on hand that will drop the prices down a bit.

Those nonplussed by the price drop may want to instead check out AT&T Unlimited Choice, which offers single smartphone mobile data plans from $60. While these are also unlimited data plans, speeds are capped at a maximum of three megabits per second, which is about what some digital subscriber line (DSL) customers get.

Some call this the latest move in a price war in the wireless industry, one that's forcing the majors to look more closely at pricing in the mobile data market. However, there's one point that may not be so immediately considered: the upcoming shift to 5G. By most every report available, 5G is going to be a game-changer of such stunning depth and import that it's hard to project the impact even from here. Now is the time for companies to consolidate and maintain customer bases as much as possible, because once 5G hits, there's going to be a huge rush for the exits unless everyone releases at about the same time. Even then, a difference of weeks may be enough for some to jump ship, and mobile providers need to prevent as much of that as possible. Price cuts, therefore, may be the way to keep users on the reservation for another couple of years while 5G reaches its launch point.

Big changes are ahead in the field of mobile data, and soon, we may see even bigger changes than anyone expected. For now, though, enjoy the price war; it's not every day this kind of thing happens.

Edited by Alicia Young

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