Data sharing plans may change our buying habits for tablets

I have long been a fan of tablets, and those with only Wi-Fi connectivity in particular. The recent introduction of data sharing plans has changed my mind about integrated 4G on tablets.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Mobile broadband is expensive, especially when it comes with a long contract attached. That expensive contract led me to shun integrated mobile broadband on tablets in the past. That has changed now that data-sharing plans are available from AT&T and Verizon.

Having connectivity is a major requirement of my job, so I have been using MiFi-type hotspot devices since they first debuted in the 3G world. The hotspot let me connect any device I might be using at the time using standard Wi-Fi connectivity on any device.

The mobile hotspot required an expensive data contract, but at least it wasn't tied to any one device. That's significant because in my work I change gadgets like other people change socks. 

The expensive data contract is why most tablets I have bought in the past were of the Wi-Fi-only variety. If I needed to connect to the web and there was no hotspot handy, I would fire up the MiFi and connect with it. That worked well but requires me to remember to bring the MiFi in addition to the gadgets I am using at the time. More importantly it means I have to constantly remember to charge the MiFi so it's ready at a moment's notice.

That changed when Verizon launched the Share Everything plan. That plan lets me pay a nominal monthly fee for each device I use that has integrated Verizon 4G connectivity, and then let them all share a bucket of data. I use data heavily so I have a big 10GB bucket of data to use as I want.

This plan is a big reason behind my trading in my Wi-Fi iPad for a Verizon 4G model. For just $10/month I added it to my existing Share Everything plan and can tap into that 10GB of data. It's clean and easy, and I am so glad I made the change.

It has been such a pleasant experience that I regretted Google doesn't have a 4G-enabled version of the Nexus 7. At a price of just $200 for the Wi-Fi version, a model with 4G would still be cheap enough to make the purchase a no-brainer for me. 

With a 4G Nexus 7 in hand I could just add it to my existing Verizon plan for $10 and have instant access to the 10GB of data. Knowing how convenient that has been with my iPad, I would love to be able to take advantage of it with the Nexus 7.

Without integrated 4G, now when I carry the Nexus 7 I will be back to the practice of constantly looking for a hotspot everywhere I go. That or remembering to bring the mobile hotspot with me. That's not a big inconvenience but one I don't need in a busy workday.

The Share Everything plan is already changing my tablet purchase habits. As these plans become more commonplace (AT&T has one now) I suspect many customers will turn away from Wi-Fi-only tablets and look for integrated 4G to tap into the data pool they are already paying for.

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