Owning multiple mobile devices means having to subscribe to multiple data plans, and that’s an expensive proposition.  For service providers, it can also lead to increased churn, or losing out on opportunities to capture subscriptions for all mobile devices owned by an individual, family or group. In a new report, market research firm Strategy Analytics examines an emerging trend: offering multi-device data plans to drive adoption of additional 3G and 4G devices.

A small group of telecompetitors, including Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility in Canada, Spain’s Telefonica Movistar, and Mobistar and Proximus in Belgium offer such plans, and France’s SFR intends to launch an extra SIM option on one of its mobile data plans by the end of this summer, the firm notes in “Multi-Device Mobile Data Plans: Connecting the Consumer with Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop and (or) other Devices.”

In the US, AT&T and Verizon Wireless have said they foresee offering multi-device family data plans at some time in the near future.

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“Our Strategy Analytics survey research shows that consumers with multiple devices are hungry for a single data plan to connect all of their devices on 3G and 4G. We have been suggesting the concept of family data plans/pooled data plans for some time, so we are pleased to see more operator offerings of multi-device plans,” noted Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, director of mobile broadband opportunities.

“Operators looking to drive device uptake and minimize churn in today’s competitive mobile broadband market should consider multi-SIM or other multi-device plans,” added director of wireless operator strategies at Sue Rudd.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • 60 percent of smartphone owners want a single, shared data plan to connect multiple devices like tablets, smartphones and laptops;
  • 50 percent of smartphone owners are interested in connecting multiple devices through tethering to their smartphone; and
  • 40 percent have an interest in a standalone 3G portable WiFi router (like the MiFi from Novatel Wireless) to connect all their devices.

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