AT&T, a day ahead of announcing its second-quarter earnings results, has added two options to its Mobile Share plans.
The plans, which AT&T, like Verizon Wireless, began offering last summer, consist of a data fee added to a monthly charge for each device on the plan and include hotspot access. Up to 10 devices can be included and at least one must be a smartphone.
One of the new options—$20 for 300MB of data—drops to a new low the price point at which subscribers can join a Mobile Share plan. The previous lowest price was $40 for 1GB.
In total, with the new $20 option, customers with smartphones will be able to get started for $70 a month.
The other new option is 4GB for $70, filling in what had been a gap between 2GB for $50 and 6GB for $90.
The new options will be available as of July 26.
"Our customers are living mobile lives, and our new Mobile Share plans give them even more options to design a plan that meets their unique needs," Mark Collins, senior vice president of voice and data products, said in a July 22 statement.
The new options, Collins added, come as a result of the "amazing response" from customers since AT&T launched Mobile share a year ago, and now more than 10 million accounts are Mobile Share.
Verizon, during its second-quarter earnings announcement July 18, said 36 percent of its accounts are now on Share plans.
Verizon also, however, announced a churn rate—the number of customers leaving it—of 0.93 percent, up from 0.84 percent a year ago.
AT&T, like Verizon, may reveal that it, too, is feeling the pressure of lower-cost options from competitors, if not an overall changing industry.
Sprint is the industry holdout—the only tier-one carrier still offering plans with unlimited 4G data. T-Mobile now offers plans at some of the lowest prices in the industry, and without a two-year contract. And the low-cost prepaid industry continues to grow, well outpacing traditional carriers.
T-Mobile has been a major catalyst of the changes. On May 1 it completed the acquisition of prepaid carrier MetroPCS, giving it a bit more muscle in an ever-battling market, and on July 10 it introduced Jump, a device upgrade program that, like T-Mobile's no-contract plans, shakes off the old rules that Verizon and AT&T helped to set in place.
Verizon, after its earnings call, quietly announced in a blog post that, like T-Mobile does, it will soon begin offering device financing.
Americans, faced with a struggling economy, have been tightening their belts for years by turning to prepaid offers. All of the major carriers now have prepaid brands contributing to their bottom lines.
On July 22, AT&T also announced the addition of the Nokia Lumia 520 to its GoPhone prepaid plan. The Nokia is the first Windows Phone-running device available on a GoPhone plan.
"A diverse device ecosystem benefits everyone," Jeff Bradley, AT&T senior vice president of devices, said in a statement, "and the addition of an affordable Windows device gives our customers yet another choice that fits their needs."