AT&T’s new plan changes aren’t just a gimmick, they’re a “meaningful” adjustment to the carrier’s data strategy, Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said.
Launched Wednesday, AT&T’s refreshed plans offer customers anywhere from 1 GB to 30 GB of data for $30 to $135 per month. The plans also include unlimited talk and text, international features, rollover data and overage elimination via slower data speeds past a user’s high-speed data cap.
In a research note, Fritzsche said the company’s switch to its new Mobile Share Advantage plans is a strategic move to incentivize customers to “climb up the monthly data stack,” noting the greatest savings per GB comes on the carrier’s 30 GB plan. That plan, she said, now offers the same amount of data at a cost of $4.50 per GB, down $3 from $7.50 per GB previously.
Fritzsche said the timing of the plan roll out is also “very purposeful” as it comes halfway through the third quarter and just ahead of a highly anticipated iPhone update in early September. But more than just a ploy to capitalize on the new iPhone, Fritzsche said the plan refresh might have some internal value as well.
“Perhaps most importantly the timing seems to be ahead of its introduction of the over-the-top (OTT) video offers coming in Q4,” Fritzsche wrote. “It is not surprising to us that (AT&T) would incentive users to higher data packages ahead of this launch.”
Fritzsche, of course, is referring to AT&T’s plan to roll out three new DirecTV streaming services in the final quarter of this year. Among those three options will be DirecTV Mobile, which will offer a mobile-first user experience for customers who want video and made-for-digital content directly on a smartphone, regardless of the wireless provider.
Fritzsche’s analysis of AT&T’s plan changes comes in contrast to her view of similar plan alterations made by Verizon last month. At the time, Fritzsche said Verizon’s move – which also raised prices, offered more data and introduced rollover data and overage elimination – could indicate competition is hurting the carrier. Verizon’s offering, she said, might represent a way for it to catch up to the offerings provided by its rivals.