Great New Unlimited Plans

May not be so “Great” for the Enterprise

AT&T would have you believe that their new plans are looking out for you, lowering costs and preventing overages.  Turns out (not for the first time), that that claim may be a bit disingenuous.  

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Let’s first look at a basic comparison of the new Mobile Share Advantage plans and the old Mobile Share Value plans.  This graph plots the plans per GB of data allotted along the X-axis.  The Y axis shows how much that plan charges per GB of data.


Here we see that the old Value plan is more expensive per GB, all the way across the board.  

However, DD Value is the promotional Double Data plan that AT&T offered, which all Ascension Mobile customers are currently taking advantage of.  That plan is less expensive on a per GB basis, again, all the way across the board.

So from a pure per GB cost, it wouldn’t make sense for us to recommend this to any of our customers, as they already pay less per GB of data.  

That’s not the whole story however.  There are a number of other variables to consider, such as the cost of adding lines to your data plan. When we consider the total cost (actual plan cost + the per user charges for the max number of allowed users) per GB, things get a bit more complicated.  The MSA25 allows 25 users and costs $15 per line added, which is the same as the old MSV plans.  However MSA10 allows 10 users and costs $20 per line added.


There are a lot of intersections here.  At the low end, the the MSA10 plan is a bit more expensive than the old Value plan.  In the 30-50GB range, the MSA25 and old MSV plan are toe to toe, but the MSV proves the most expensive per GB at the higher end of the spectrum (60+GB).  The MSVDD plan again comes out as the winner for value all the way up to the 50GB plan, but at that point the MSA25 plans have the lowest cost per GB.

Importantly, I mentioned that the MSA10 and MSA25 only allow that many users in their plans.  The old MSV plans allowed as many as 100 users per group.  For businesses that have 25+ lines, things are about to get ugly.  Let’s first look at how many GB are available to your average user on these plans, and then we’ll get into how that is clearly reflected in the cost.


So here, we see that the larger number of users that were allowed into the MSV plans meant that on average, your users got far fewer GB each to use before you’d start incurring overages.  The MSVDD holds up better, outpacing or keeping pace with the new plans up to 100GB.  At that point, because of the lower max number of users, the MSA plans are going to provide higher amounts of data to each user.  

So… that’s better, right?

Well, providing more data is potentially good, but what does it cost you?


Our yellow line is gone here, as the plan costs are the same as the MSV plan, so the line traced is identical for MSV and MSVDD.  The difference is indicated in the previous chart, which shows the additional data that those plans are allotted.

The MSA10 plan is more expensive per user, regardless of which MSA10 plan you choose.  The MSA25 is on par with the MSV plan up to the 50GB level, but from there the MSV plans are significantly less expensive per user than the new plans.  Considering that our customers are on those MSV plans that give them twice the data at no additional charge, there’s really no comparison here.

AT&T has eliminated the MSV plans, but will allow customers to remain on them for now.  The MSV Double Data promotion has long expired, though we’ve managed to maintain it for all of our customers despite subsequent plan changes to accommodate changing usage habits.

What all of this boils down to is that AT&T is now offering a way to eliminate overages, but at the cost of user experience.  

There will always be users in a group of 25 who use 10x or 100x more than the average user.  On these new (more expensive) MSA plans, those users will eat up the group’s allotted data for the month, and everyone on that plan will be throttled for the remainder of the bill cycle, even if they used no data themselves.

The alternative would be to put those users in a plan all by themselves, but it’s easy to see how that would get very expensive, very quickly.  

Our customers should all be happy that they are currently in these MSVDD plans and that they’re apparently going to stick around for a while, at least.  Until such time as AT&T sees fit to move everyone to MSA plans, or your company runs out of room on your current MSV plans, we won’t be making any changes to our customer’s accounts.  

Keep in mind that new plans added will have to be of the MSA variety, and you’ll therefore have to decide at some point how much data is enough for your average user, and how to control what we like to call “the piggies” from using up all the data in a group and causing throttling for all.

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