That equation changes outside of Wi-Fi range, where a cellular network is often the only game in town. But there again, NumberSync starts to look like a pretty good deal for the carrier.
That's because AT&T doesn't charge subscribers to connect a watch or an in-car hands-free system to a phone over Bluetooth. It does levy a monthly fee for connecting an additional device to its own network, even if it's using the same phone number.
Partly for this reason, many wearables and other IoT devices don't have their own LTE radios, though some use older 3G technology. LTE hardware adds bulk, cost, and power consumption to these small devices. That's why most watches don't come with LTE and most tablets are purchased with only Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. When AT&T starts selling the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, it will be the carrier's first watch with LTE.
But it's early days for wearables, and over time there are likely to be more that can stand alone. For subscribers who want untethered gadgets, NumberSync should make the whole experience easier.
AT&T expects to launch NumberSync on a device "fairly soon" and says it's working with manufacturers to have the service included in others. More NumberSync products should be launched around the year-end holidays, the carrier said.
Despite all the new communications options, phone numbers aren't going anywhere soon, analyst Entner said. In fact, WhatsApp uses them for user identity on its service. There's nothing else like a phone number if you want to reach everyone, Entner said. "It's the glue that keeps everything together."
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