Service providers have been slow to roll out new “family plans” for broadband access spanning fixed and mobile domains, or including a range of mobile devices. But that doesn’t mean they won’t do so. The issue is timing.

Family plans for mobile devices, for example, will undoubtedly have the same impact on revenue as family plans did for mobile phone accounts: grow accounts and revenue, but with much-lower average revenue per device, or user.

Under those conditions, it is no surprise that service providers haven’t been exceptionally interested in moving too quickly to create family data plans that allow a number of devices to share a common data account, much as plans now allow multiple phones to share a common pool of voice minutes or test messages.

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Recently, leading mobile operators including Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility in Canada, Telefonica Movistar in Spain, and Orange Mobistar and Proximus in Belgium have launched multi-device plans, though. SFR France launched an extra SIM option on one of its mobile data plans during the summer this year.

Infonetics forecasts that approximately 15 percent of all smart phones (with some regional variation) will be sold as part of a shared data plan by 2015. Likewise, 15 percent of tablets will be sold as part of such a plan by 2015, and that percentage will continue to grow beyond this point, according to Shira Levine, Infonetics Research directing analyst, and Richard Webb, Infonetics directing analyst.

In the US, market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T have both said they envision family data plans in the near future. AT&T Mobility President and CEO Ralph de la Vega said in July 2011 that the carrier is seriously considering a move to shared family data plans, though he declined to give a timetable.

Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse has also indicated in the past that Sprint is considering launching shared data plans.

Orange Austria, France and Spain have been offering two devices per data plan, bundling 600 minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited BTZone WiFi access, and 2GB shared data across both devices (iPad and iPhone, for example), at

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