Both AT&T and Verizon have been aggressively pushing their latest Group Share plan configurations to both consumers and small businesses. AT&T’s Mobile Share and Verizon’s Share Everything pooled data offerings, which we call ‘puddles’, are limited in the number of devices permitted in a pool to a maximum of 25. This limitation can produce management headaches for companies with hundreds or thousands of devices. Particularly challenging is the fact that for Verizon each ‘puddle’ must be on its own billing account number. The other limitation for large companies is that the offered Group Share choices only span a limited range from 30GB to 50GB thus forcing companies to carefully assemble the devices to be combined in any given Group Share puddle. The price points of these Group Share offerings are quite attractive and will typically generate eye-catching savings when compared to Classic Data Sharing scenarios (pools built from 2GB and 5GB share plans with no device count or GB limitations). However, the beneficial economics can quickly break down where a lack of persistent maintenance can result in deteriorating, inconsistent and only partially populated pools over time.
The criteria leading to a selection of Group Share configurations is multifaceted. Over the next few weeks we will attempt to deconstruct some of this complexity into smaller more bounded choice points. There are two flavors of Group Share offerings by carriers Data Only Group Share and a more expensive form of Group Share including unlimited voice and text. This week we begin with the choice of using Data Only Group Share configurations versus Classic Data Pooling.
Aside from the complex management decision to break all your data cards into 25 device max puddles, there are two other factors that should influence a decision to move from Classic Data Pooling to Group Share environments. In this tip we are looking only at data cards and the cutover point to consider Data Only Group Share without the voice component. The single biggest determinant will be your average GB usage across all the intended pooled data devices. If your average usage is less than 2GBs it is a straightforward decision. You will always save money in Group Share puddles. Once your average data card usage reaches 2.5 to 3 GBs you fall into a band where your vendor discount can impact your decision. Discount becomes a factor in the choice of data pooling because Classic Data Card plans are typically discounted by the carrier while the access charge for Group Share ($20 for data cards) is not discounted. A higher discount drives the cutover point for Group Share to a lower average usage level. If you have a small carrier discount, your cutover point will shift to 3.0 GB average versus a discount of 20% where it makes sense to move to Group Share in a lower range of 2.0 to 2.5 average GB usage.