updated 04:55 pm EDT, Thu April 2, 2009
AT&T subsidizes netbooks
Wireless provider AT&T at the currently ongoing CTIA show in Las Vegas announced it will offer a netbook computer for as low as $50 if buyers agree to a two-year wired and wireless data plan, though this offer is limited to customers in Atlanta, with a similar deal in Philadelphia. The trial offer will give buyers the option of picking from the Acer Aspire One, Dell Inspiron Mini 9, Dell Inspiron Mini 12 and LG Xenia, though some of these portable PCs are more expensive, with the subsidized prices ranging up to $250 depending on the model.
Buyers need to subscribe to AT&T's Internet at Home and On the Go plan, both of which start at nearly $60 per month and includes DSL service in a user's home as well as the AT&T DataConnect mobile 3G data and Wi-Fi. Another option is the new DataConnect plan, available in a $40-per-month flavor that offers 200MB of data or a $60-a-month service that gets them 5GB of data. With this plan, the netbook prices range from $100 to $350, and is the only way customers in Philadelphia can get a subsidized netbook, though at $100 instead of $50 as the market is not AT&T's wireline territory. Unsubsidized prices for the netbooks range from $450 to $600.
AT&T's netbooks will ship with the AT&T Communication Manager software, which will encourage users to access the company's more than 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots as part of their service, making the 200MB limit in the lower plan more realistic. The software will also store information about previously accessed Wi-Fi networks.
The provider is also selling a 3G-enabled Lenovo X200 for the subsidized price of $750 with the home and on-the-go data plan, or $850 with just the mobile data.
The company may also be considering offering a more flexible data plan, that would have users pay for daily access.
Competitor Verizon may soon offer a similar subsidized pricing structure for netbooks, while retailer Radio Shack already sells an Aspire One for $100 with a two-year data plan. [via ChannelWeb]