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.


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.