Newly Married AT&T/DirecTV Unveil Underwhelming Combined Wireless/TV Plans

The AT&T/DirecTV combo platter saves money, but only for new customers, and after 12 months, it's really just a $10/month bill discount.

The AT&T/DirecTV combo platter saves money, but only for new customers, and after 12 months, it’s really just a $10/month bill discount.

Now that the merger of AT&T and DirecTV has cleared regulatory hurdles, the newlyweds are going public with their first combo platter offering that pairs of AT&T wireless phone service with DirecTV satellite TV. Unfortunately, the more than 20 million current DirecTV customers are going to be left out in the cold on this announcement.

Starting on Aug. 10, new DirecTV (and, where available, AT&T U-Verse) customers can bundle together pay-TV and AT&T wireless service for a promotional price of as little as $200/month. That’s for the entry-level DirecTV Select service and a 10GB/month AT&T wireless plan that can be shared across four different lines. It’s effectively a $10/month discount off of getting the two services separately.

For TV service with more channels, you’ll obviously be expected to pay more, with the DirecTV Premiere tier bringing the total promotional cost up to $275/month.

And, to repeat, all these prices are promotional. After a year, they will go up by around $35-40/month.

Current DirecTV or U-Verse customers who are thinking about changing their phone service to AT&T can get up to $300 in bill credit, but only if they buy a new phone through the AT&T Next installment plan and trade in their old phone.

Customers in areas served by U-Verse can get AT&T Internet service with promotional pricing starting at $30/month for up to 6Mbps, or $40/month for up to 24Mbps. But again, remember that these are promotional prices that will go up after a year. At this point, AT&T isn’t even saying what that price will be, other than saying that the “prevailing standard rate” will apply after the 12 months are up.

Today’s announcement is a bit underwhelming, as the deals boil down to little more than slight discounts for bundled services. But the combined companies pledge that more is to come.

“Today is the first of many planned moves to enable our customers to enjoy a premium entertainment experience almost anywhere,” said Brad Bentley, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services. “We’re going to deliver more TV and entertainment choices to more screens – when and where our customers want it.”

As part of the merger process, AT&T promised that it could bring affordable wireless broadband service to rural Americans. A review of FTC documents in March turned up some details on that plan, like the fact that it’s not going to be satellite broadband, but instead what’s known as Wireless Local Loop (WLL) technology, which basically uses dedicated wireless spectrum to carry broadband back and forth between a box on the user’s home and one on a nearby cell tower.

No word yet on when AT&T will be prepared to provide more details on that service, but let’s hope it’s more inventive than just a $10/month discount.

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