EE unveils UK’s first ever shared data plans
With EE’s Shared 4GEE Plans, five people will be able to share data and receive just one bill for all of their devices.
The plans will have data allowances of up to 20GB, with a “lead sharer” holding the main contract, and the extra users added to the plan for between £5 and £22 a month.
The costs are more depending on whether the customers are looking to add a phone with calls to the plan, and less if the customer only wants data for a tablet or laptop.
Each sharer will choose a device that they wish to attach to the plan, and can choose from an add-on bonus that includes access to music streaming and gaming offerings.
If the shared plan customers max out their data allowance, all sharers get an email notifying them and allowing them to dial back their usage, and possibly avoiding the dreaded “bill shock”.
Customers can also purchase additional data booster packs.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said: “This new approach to sharing call plans is one of a number of interesting moves by EE. It shows that the provider, despite already having a monopoly on the 4G market, is far from standing still.
However, he warns that the prospect of splitting data amongst multiple users could be a double-edged sword.
“Sharing minutes and texts may certainly help consumers to get their money’s worth. Our research suggests that 55% of people use less than half of their minutes and 61% only half of their texts each month.
“Also, the flexibility of a shared package does enable families, businesses or friends alike to all enjoy both the super-fast 4G speeds of the fledgling network, as well as the perks of being on EE.
“However, the real concern for consumers will be hitting their data limit even quicker – and being stuck with even bigger bills.”
None of EE’s plans currently come with unlimited data.
uSwitch.com said that with faster 4G than ever EE consumers may swiftly reach their limits, and a 500MB allowance between a data-hungry household is unlikely to last long.
Shared contracts start at £31 a month for 500MB of data and unlimited calls and texts, and rise to £51 for 5GB of data. All are 24 month contracts.
EE will also be offering the shared plans to small businesses on 24 month contracts.
Doku added:”There are larger data plans available but, at £56 for 8GB, it remains to be seen how many people will see the value in sharing a pricey plan – not to mention factoring in the cost of including additional users. £12 per month to add a phone to an EE package isn’t far from rival SIM only packages offering a wealth of texts and data, without fear of eating into a shared allowance.
“Of course, an option is to disable data on shared handsets, still giving the freedom for a family member to talk and text to their heart’s content, but without the benefit of browsing on the go at super-fast speeds. Going without data on a 4G plan is like ordering steak, but being a vegetarian.”