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Summary:

AT&T revealed the shared data plans it’s been hinting at for so long. The new pricing structure looks very similar to the shared tiers Verizon announced last month with two key differences: AT&T’s plans are optional for new and existing customers, and they’re slightly cheaper.

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AT&T revealed the shared data plans it’s been hinting at for so long. The new pricing structure looks very similar to the shared tiers Verizon announced last month, charging a per-line rate for each device, bundling in unlimited voice and SMS and offering a flat fee for buckets of common data. There are two key differences though: AT&T’s plans are optional for new and existing customers, and they’re slightly cheaper.

Verizon’s structure is pretty simple. Pay a per-device monthly fee ranging from $10 for a tablet to $40 for a smartphone and then buy a bucket of data starting at $50 for 1 GB and going up to $100 for 10 GB. AT&T, however, is using a sliding scale to determine the amount your charged for each smartphone. For instance a family buying a 1 GB plan would pay $45 per smartphone connected, while the same family would pay only $40 per phone if they signed up for a 4 GB plan.

In general, the prices AT&T charges for the actual data buckets start off cheaper than Verizon’s equivalents, but as you get into the upper tiers, Verizon starts offering better volume discounts. For instance at 6 GB, Verizon charges $80 while AT&T charges $90. But at that tier AT&T is charging a $35 per-device fee. So four smartphones sharing 6 GB plans costs roughly $230 a month, while the same setup on Verizon costs $240. If you move down to two smartphones sharing 6 GB though, both carriers’ prices wind up being the same, $160.

Both carriers are charging the same rates for connecting non-smartphone devices and customer overages are being billed at the same rate: $15 per gigabyte. The new Mobile Share plans will be available in late August.

The biggest shocker is that AT&T is making these plans strictly optional – and not just for existing customers. New customers can still sign up for the revised individual data plans AT&T implemented in January – which in the case of individual customers could wind up being the cheaper option by far. And don’t worry, unlimited customers, your plans remained grandfathered.

  1. Travis Henning Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    This is confusing. The article states that for two phones sharing a 6GB plan, the cost under ATT’s plan is $160. But if I’m reading the cart correctly, each phone is $90 (voice and text) + $35 (data), so wouldn’t the total cost be $250 (90*2 + 35*2)? Or is the $90 a singular cost regardless of the number of phones and then each phone also adds $35 for data?
    Regardless, this is not likely to save anyone a lot of money.

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    1. Kevin Fitchard Wednesday, July 18, 2012

      Hi Travis, the $90 is a singular cost for the pooled 6 GB of data. Yeah, it’s a bit confusing, but the plans are confusing. Basically your paying a line fee for each device and then buying all your data in a single big bucket.

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  2. So, if I have 2 smartphones and 2 feature phones and share 4 GB the total would be $180? 70 + 40 + 40 + 30 + 30. Which happens to be the same price today for the same setup but each smartphone would have 3G (total 6G).

    So, like VZW, the price remained the same, but the amount of data available dropped.

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    1. You mean each smartphone would have 3GB (total 6GB)? Absolutely!

      I think both AT&T and Verizon are gouging their customers with these new shared plans.

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  3. Kevin Fitchard Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Hi BackInAction, yep there so many sliding scales (# of devices, types of devices, size of data bucket), the individual shared plan price can vary wildly depending on which variable you move. The difference is that if you were to save money of get less data with these new data plans, AT&T gives you the option of using old rates. Verizon does not.

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  4. why does everyone refuse to give even a slight discount to heavy users? on the $200 plan the first 20 GB cost $20 each. why charge $15 each for additional gigs instead of at least keeping it at $10/gig i understand the higher overages on lower plans but for people who choose the highest plan additional data should be cheaper.

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  5. If I want to tether a WiFi-only device (e.g. iPad) to my smartphone, do I have to pay $10 extra, or does that only apply to a 3G/4G-enabled device?

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    1. Kevin Fitchard Wednesday, July 18, 2012

      Nope, the connection charges are for devices with 3G/4G radios only. You can tether a device to your smartphone or hotspot at no charge (the data just comes out of your plan)

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  6. I like 4 GB plan very much. For Custom technology news, Education Technology, Healthcare Technology, Cloud computing search The New Fulcrum Point

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  7. Donny Boudreaux Thursday, July 19, 2012

    I’m excited about this plan. For me and my wife. We’d be paying 210/mo under the current structure to get 2 smart phones and each get 3gb data with unlimited talk/text. Under the nex structure we STILL have 6gb data, but its shared now. And it would only cost us 160/month. $50/month in savings is HUGE for us. AND if later on down the road i need a USB card for work or pleasure, it will only cost me $20/mo more instead of paying 50-70 for a standalone card which is the current going rate.

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  8. Is sharing devices required or can an individual who just wants a ton of data join a shared plan without actually sharing?

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  9. Try again. Tethering on the iPhone plans are only available the highest levels – 4GB previously and now 5GB. I know because I wasn’t allowed to tether on my iPhone unless I moved to one of those plans.

    The new plan may be interesting… but I need to sit down and really review the comparison….

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