In a mobile world where carriers are seemingly obsessed with squeezing every spare cent they can from subscribers, it was a pleasant surprise to see T-Mobile CTO Neville a few weeks back promise that T-Mobile’s 5G data plans won’t be more expensive than the company’s existing 4G plans. Unfortunately, it looks as if the same can’t be said for AT&T.
During AT&T’s earnings conference call today, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson relayed that 5G pricing could very well be tiered and that users keen on enjoying the maximum data speeds afforded by 5G will have to pay a little bit extra for the privilege.
“I will be very surprised if as we move into wireless, the pricing regime in wireless doesn’t look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line,” Stephenson explained. “If you can offer a gig speed, there are some customers that are willing to pay a premium for 500 meg to a gig speed, and so forth. So I expect that to be the case. We’re 2-3 years away from seeing that play out.”
Truth be told, pricing surrounding 5G data plans is something of a moot point given how early we are into the 5G roll out. AT&T, for example, began rolling out its 5G network in late 2018 across 12 U.S. cities. Since then, the number of cities with support for AT&T’s 5G network has grown to 19. While seemingly encouraging, it’s not anything consumers can enjoy just yet given that there are no 5G capable smartphones for AT&T at the moment.
Interestingly, the various carrier approaches we’ve seen with respect to 5G vary wildly. With T-Mobile promising not to charge extra for 5G and AT&T hinting that it may employ a tiered pricing matrix, Verizon has opted for a $10 add-on for consumers wanting to take advantage of 5G.