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Cellcom, Bluegrass get in on shared data

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Sensing a demand from consumers, rural carriers have begun to offer shared data plans pioneered by their larger rivals.

Cellcom and Bluegrass Cellular now offer rate plans that provide customers with unlimited voice and messaging serviced with the ability to pool up to 10 devices to share a bucket of data. The new plans are similar to those rolled out last year by Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility.

Cellcom’s plans begin at $30 per month for 500 megabytes of data, escalating in $10 increments to 1 gigabyte, 2 GB, 4 GB, 6 GB, 8 GB and 10 GB for $90 per month. Customers needing more data can also select 15 GB of data for $120 per month or 20 GB for $150. To tap into those buckets, customers will pay $40 per month for each smartphone; $30 for each “basic” phone; and $20 for each wireless modem.

Bluegrass’ data buckets start are priced at $30 per month for 1 GB; $60 for 4 GB; $80 for 6 GB; $110 for 10 GB; $145 for 14 GB; $190 for 20 GB; and $240 for 30 GB. Device pricing for basic phones and wireless modems is a consistent $30 and $20 per month respectively per line regardless of bucket selected. However, smartphone lines start at $45 per month on the 1 GB data plan, sliding down to $30 per month per line for the 10 GB or larger buckets.

Both carriers are also part of Verizon Wireless’ LTE in Rural America program, with Bluegrass having launched LTE services using the program in November and Cellcom launched its offering last April.

By comparison, Verizon Wireless’ packages begin at $50 per month for 1 GB, escalating to $60 for 2 GB, $70 for 4 GB, $80 for 6 GB, $90 for 8 GB and $100 for 10 GB. Smartphones are priced at $40 per month; basic phones at $30; netbooks, laptops, wireless modems and hot spot devices at $20; and tablets at $10 per month.

AT&T Mobility’s pricing is staggered at $40 for 1 GB; $70 for 4 GB; $90 for 6 GB; $120 for 10 GB; $160 for 15 GB; and $200 for 20 GB. Adding a required smartphone runs $45 per device on the 1 GB plan; $40 on the 4 GB plan; $35 on the 6 GB plan; and $30 on the remaining plans. Basic and “messaging” devices, or those that are not considered smartphones, runs $30 per device; laptops, mobile hotspots and wireless modems run $20 per device; and tablets and gaming devices run $10 per device.

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