AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV may have created the perfect plan for cord cutters. By bundling DirecTV satellite service with AT&T’s wireless data plan, subscribers get a $10 monthly discount, along with unlimited voice and data.
Bundling TV service with a mobile plan taps into the 90 percent of American adults who own a cell phone and the shift toward mobile computing. This allows cord cutters to keep access to live television programming while still keeping monthly expenses low.
Smart TVs Becoming More Popular
Internet-connected TVs are quickly becoming the norm, with 60 percent of people over 12 having access to one in their home. This includes Smart TVs, online gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, and streaming devices such as ChromeCast, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire.
TV manufacturers recognize that people want to access Internet content on their television sets, and with Internet-connected TVs becoming the norm, major corporations are forced to cater to these demographics.
The Rise of Online TV Alternatives
With Internet speeds on the rise, online video programming is becoming more popular. Online services such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube Red, and Netflix are making more content available to anyone with an Internet connection.
Each of these services is focused on creating original content and obtaining exclusive streaming rights. Twitter recently won the rights to livestream NFL Thursday night games for free as well. Individual premium networks like HBO and Showtime are promoting stand-alone web-based services as well, helping free them from their dependence on cable and satellite providers.
These trends are pushing Hollywood studios to focus more on creating online content. At last year’s CTIA Super Mobility Week keynote round table, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg described his studio’s push to create bite-sized mobile content with Game of Thrones production values.
In order to entice subscribers to stay, cable companies are offering incentives such as discounted premium content, upgraded equipment, and even free home phone lines. They’re also working with studios to delay online content releases for non-subscribers, providing their customers earlier streaming access.
However, as content becomes increasingly available online, Internet and wireless service providers are placing monthly bandwidth caps to limit the amount of data that can be consumed. This forces consumers to balance their data usage to avoid being hit with data overage charges.
The Benefits of AT&T Wireless
Although Verizon Wireless has the most cell towers in the U.S., AT&T’s network is able to compete because of the enterprise WiFi hotspots the company has negotiated over the years. Home Depot, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and Marriott are among the national brands that offer free AT&T WiFi.
Smartphones and tablets are designed to seek out WiFi hotspots and give them precedence over cell towers in order to limit data usage.
The feature is also used to help with navigation, as Google’s cars infamously mapped wireless networks with its Street View cars that traverse city streets to provide ground-level navigation data. By triangulating your location using both cell towers and nearby wireless networks, Google Maps is able to more accurately pinpoint your location and the direction you’re facing.
This means while you’re commuting or at work, your phone is more likely to connect to nearby hotspots as opposed to cell towers, strengthening the signal while using less data.
In an effort to grow its customer base, AT&T is now offering unlimited voice and data to customers who bundle their AT&T wireless service with DirecTV. The company now joins Sprint as the only wireless carriers offering unlimited data, an attractive offer for consumers looking to cut costs while maintaining their current standard of living.
DirecTV’s cheapest plan starts at $19.99 per month, and a $10 discount is given for bundling the service with the unlimited voice and data plan. At $9.99 per month, DirecTV is comparable to Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix, making it a competitive option for those looking to cut the cord.
The Needs of Road Warriors
The traditional workplace is also experiencing a shift, as more and more companies offer remote-work schedules that allow employees to perform their job from home. Instead of staying at home, many people are choosing to travel, and cable access at home doesn’t necessarily provide coverage while on the go.
DirecTV has two options for travelers to access content while on the road. The company partners with third-party distributers King Controls, KVH Industries, and Winegard to provide mobile satellites capable of receiving satellite content even while moving. This allows your kids to watch TV while you’re driving and makes road trips much easier to handle.
For those unwilling to install a mobile satellite on their vehicle, DirecTV also offers a mobile app that can be installed on smartphones and tablets, allowing users to watch some content and set their DVR to record any content they can’t access.
While other service providers do offer similar apps and services, none are bundled with unlimited mobile voice and data through AT&T. The high-speed Internet provided with other services is tethered to your home address, limiting its usefulness. Although these ISPs are now working hard to provide hotspots in popular metropolitan areas, the proliferation of AT&T WiFi hotspots is hard to beat.
On top of the chains listed above, AT&T hotspots are available within many municipalities, major stadiums, airports, hotels, and convention centers. Connecting to these is often free for everyone, but AT&T subscribers often gain guest access to even paid hotspots.
Discounts, Offers, and Getting Started
If you’re already a DirecTV or AT&T subscriber, you can log-in to your online account or contact customer service to request a combined bill for the services. For those looking to make the switch, the company is offering incentives to port numbers and trade-in devices from competitors. You can get up to a $2000 credit on your bill for turning in qualified devices and switching to AT&T.
The company also offers discounts to employees of certain organizations, including the government, most schools and major banks, and a variety of others. With these discounts, DirecTV service will often end up being free.
Be aware that many of the offers, such as BOGOs, still require an up-front investment. For example, a free phone won’t be free out the door, instead a device credit will be applied to the bill over a 24-month term. Credit checks are run, and people with less-than-desirable credit will be required to pay a deposit, which is credited back to the account after 12 months.
Still – for those looking for a cheaper alternative to access both Internet content and television programming, the AT&T and DirecTV bundle is the best option we’ve seen. Instead of cutting the cable and missing out on current events, you can switch to a wireless plan that moves with you.
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work appears in High Times, Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Street, and Hardcore Droid.