Customers of DirecTV and subscribers to AT&T’s “U-Verse” multichannel video service will be able to sign up for a new, unlimited wireless data plan that AT&T introduced on Tuesday. Described as a limited time promotion with no specific end date, the unlimited data offering constitutes a reversal of AT&T policy under which the company scrapped its unlimited data plans six years ago in favor of tiered data pricing. Verizon later followed suit, and both companies have since restricted unlimited data offerings to grandfathered customers who had signed up for unlimited data before tiered pricing went into effect. (At this time, Sprint and T-Mobil are the only major wireless carriers that continue to market unlimited data plans to new customers.)
Tuesday’s promotion is viewed as the fruit of AT&T’s recent acquisition of DirecTV through a $49 billion transaction that AT&T intends to use as a springboard toward bundled voice, video and broadband offerings marketed at attractive rates to new and existing customers. Executives of AT&T, which boasts 58 million wireless smart phone customers nationwide, estimate that the company can garner as many as 40 million new mobile subscribers from the pool of DirecTV customers who lack an AT&T wireless subscription.
New and existing AT&T wireless customers who already subscribe to U-Verse or DirecTV or who sign up for either video service will qualify for the unlimited data promotion. Prices for the unlimited data plan, which also includes unlimited voice and text service, start at $100 per month for a single line. Subscribers may sign up for two additional lines at $40 per month each, with the fourth line of service free of charge. Meanwhile, AT&T wireless customers who don’t already subscribe to DirecTV may sign up for that service at an introductory monthly rate of $20 for a base channel package that will rise to $50 per month after the first year of contract service. Stressing that the promotion is intended to reward AT&T’s best customers and is not viewed as a lure for cable and other multichannel video “cord cutters,” AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie told reporters, “we’re doing everything to deliver customers what they want.”