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Sprint eyes 'family plan' for data devices

The sentiment echoes that of other industry executives who have also talked about the move to a single bucket of data connecting multiple devices.

Sprint Nextel is looking at the potential for rolling out a family plan-like bucket for data services that can connect phones, tablets, cameras, and other devices.

Fared Adib, vice president of product development for Sprint. Engadget

"You'll see this from us," Fared Adib, vice president of product development for Sprint, said during a roundtable discussion with reporters today.

Adib's comments echo sentiments from other telecom executives, including Verizon Chief Operating Officer Lowell McAdams and the head of AT&T's mobile and consumer business, Ralph de la Vega. So while not a revolutionary concept, it's comforting that there is some agreement on where data plans are going.

The advent of multiple connected devices in the home, from the traditional cellphone to tablets, cameras, picture frames, and other gadgets, requires a different way of charging for the wireless connection. Adib said all companies are looking at using a single bucket of data that multiple devices can draw from, rather than individual data plans for each device.

The biggest hurdle: the need to drastically change the billing system to ensure that the service can be tracked accurately, particularly for the multiple devices. That's a complication that most carriers are likely working on, Adib said.

"This isn't going to happen overnight," he said.

Sprint, in particular, is actively involved with setting up such a service, Adib said. He said the reason tablets haven't taken off is because there haven't been attractive data plan options.