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Not looking for another subscription

March 4th, 2010

Came across this quote on Gizmodo [gizmodo.com] yesterday:

My expectation is that there’s not going to be a lot of people out there looking for another subscription.

We’ll it’s how Gizmodo quoted him… not quite what he said, see the Gizmodo article for the full text of the quote.

This apparently is how the CEO of AT&T covers for the fact that there is no subscription for 3G data on the iPad. I agree with Gizmodo — it’s more likely that Apple dictated it this way. But on the other hand I think it would be easy to get people to sign up to pay more each month just not a totally new contract.

See, one of the best things that my operator here in Singapore (that’d be StarHub [starhub.com]) has going is it’s Dual-HLR option. Without going into GSM network design this is what the consumer gets out of the dual-HLR option; a second SIM card, with the same phone number that works at the same time as your current SIM. This works because you nominate one of the SIM cards to be your “primary” and that is the one that rings (in Starhub’s case it rings first then, if you don’t answer the call rolls over to the second SIM where you can answer or let it roll over to voice mail.) All the features of your existing contract are active on both SIMs, both can consume data from the same data plan, etc. This is actually the reason Starhub launched the service. There are a lot of business types who have a Blackberry and an iPhone, but don’t want two contracts. This costs the consumer SG$10 a month as opposed to the cheapest two year contract here for about SG$35 a month. All it costs Starhub is a some configuration and whatever additional data the user would not have consumed otherwise, but I doubt that’s a big cost.

Of course you can do this with two SIMs that have different numbers — “family plans” have shared resources for years. But this makes more sense for a single person with multiple devices.

I think that for US$10 or US$15 a month to have this dual-HLR option users would agree to add this to their existing contract. Not just for the people with an iPad but for anyone with two data devices. US$10 or US$15 is low enough compared to a whole new contact that it’s almost an impulse buy, and as it is tied to the existing contract there would be, I think, less psychological aversion.

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