AT&T launches wireless data and TV services on one bill

Impact on BYOD users will be just as profound as for other consumers

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Wireless video to smartphones and tablets took another step on Monday with AT&T's announcement of a single nationwide package of pay TV and wireless services on a single bill.

For $200 a month and starting Aug. 10, AT&T said it will offer a combination of high definition and DVR (digital video recorder) services for up to four TVs as well as unlimited talk and text for four wireless lines and 10 GB of shareable wireless data. The carrier said the package represents a savings of $600 over the first year.

Of course, customers don't have to use their smartphones or tablets to receive video content wirelessly, but AT&T predicted they will with the new All in One plan.

"We're going to deliver more TV and entertainment choices to more screens—when and where customers want it," noted Brad Bentley, chief marketing officer for AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services.

Demand for wireless video has been pushing the expansion of network switches, wireless routers and faster 4G LTE networks nationwide at a growth rate that will continue to explode.

The announcement came just two weeks after AT&T bought DirecTV, expanding its existing U-verse pay TV service to reach 55 million Americans, making it the largest pay TV provider in the world. AT&T also has 132 million wireless subscribers and connections in the U.S. and Mexico.

New DirecTV subscribers will be able to gain immediate access to video programs on compatible mobile devices via an app as soon as they leave one of 2,000 AT&T retail stores selling the service. They will have wireless access even before the TV service is installed at their homes or other locations.

While the new combined billing plan is apparently targeted mainly toward consumers, it will inevitably affect businesses that support workers who use their personal devices for work in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment. IT shops already have had to brace for additional wireless loads over Wi-Fi or enhanced indoor cellular during holiday periods or sporting events, since some workers switch back and forth from a smartphone or tablet for personal and work uses.

"Business customers can use their personal accounts to watch TV on their wireless devices wherever they are," said Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst. "I know there are separate consumer and business accounts, but this [AT&T All in One] is the type of service that can be in the fuzzy space in between. I see this being just as important for businesses as it is for consumers."

He added, "People are people. They use their technology wherever they are. If they have a personal account, they use it wirelessly while at work or when traveling, the same as they do today with a personal wireless phone. It's just not set up as a business account, and is that fuzzy middle ground."

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