AT&T introduced a new unlimited data plan with 5G services that's cheaper than the carrier's other unlimited offerings. The carrier's new "Value Plus Plan" is also less expensive than similar offerings from AT&T rivals Verizon and T-Mobile.
That's noteworthy considering the US wireless industry is heading into a year that's expected to be incredibly competitive for a mostly saturated smartphone market.
Some analysts believe that AT&T's new unlimited service plan won't cause the company's rivals too much worry. "This is a new, no-frills unlimited plan from AT&T. I think it is intended for customers who bring their own device and use a lot of mobile data, without caring about hotspot usage," wrote analyst Jeff Moore of Wave7 Research in response to questions from Light Reading on the topic, noting that AT&T's new plan does not support hotspot services. Wave7 closely tracks promotions and pricing in the US wireless industry. "I don't expect a response from AT&T's competitors."
Nonetheless, AT&T touted demand for the offering. "We have research that suggests an increase in market demand for access to a lower price point for unlimited postpaid, particularly for single lines and customers who prefer to bring their own devices," explained an AT&T representative in response to questions from Light Reading on the new plan. "This new value plan is meant to serve those customers looking for a basic entry level unlimited plan."
The representative suggested that AT&T's other, more expensive unlimited plans – which support services including hotspot tethering – might be more attractive to families.
Broadly, AT&T's new "Value Plus Plan" represents an attempt by the operator to further segment its pricing to appeal to all types of customers. But the plan's $50 price for one line of service – plus its support for 5G speeds – helps to position the plan against AT&T's rivals.
For example, Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan with 5G costs $70 per month for one line of service. And T-Mobile's cheapest unlimited plan with 5G costs $60 per month for one line of service.
However, it's worth noting that service pricing is generally complex in the US wireless industry, to say the least. For example, T-Mobile's "Metro By T-Mobile" prepaid brand offers unlimited 5G service for one line at $60 per month. And Verizon's Visible brand offers unlimited 5G services for $40 per month for one line of service.
AT&T's new "Value Plus Plan" isn't advertised on the carrier's website among its unlimited plans – instead, it sits in the operator's "other plans" category – despite the fact that it provides unlimited talk, text and data.
AT&T introduced its newest plan just as analysts expect a significant slowdown in the number of new customers entering the wireless industry. Specifically, the financial analysts at Evercore recently wrote that the big wireless providers in the US collectively added 3 million net new postpaid phone subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2021, bringing total 2021 industry net customer additions to 9.4 million. But they said that kind of growth likely wouldn't continue.
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