AT&T today has become the second U.S. carrier to announce shared data plans, wherein multiple devices consume a limited amount of data for a single fee. The plans will be available in late August.
AT&T notes that these plans are not mandatory; it's not moving anyone to them unless they want to. If you have unlimited data now, you'll still have it in August, when shared data becomes available. Same goes for AT&T's current tiered plans.
There can be as many as 10 devices attached to a shared plan, and one of those devices must be a smartphone. The shared plans include tethering and unlimited voice calls and texts. There are six tiers of service, starting at $40 for 1 gigabyte of data and ranging to $200 for 20 gigabytes of data. As each data bucket increases, the cost per device drops, but only for the first three buckets. If you go over your data allotment, each addition gigabyte costs $15.
It's a little confusing, yeah, especially compared to Verizon's shared plans. Let's break it down a little more.
|Amount of data in plan||Cost for data||Cost for each device||Base total|
Basic and "quick messaging" phones each add another $30 to your monthly bill. Laptops and data cards run $20, and tablets add $10 a month.
Verizon in June announced it, too, was adding shared data plans as an option. Data buckets range from $50 for 1 gigabyte of data to 10 gigabytes for $100 a month, with added fees for each smartphone and tablet attached to the plan.
We've got AT&T's complete press release after the break.
AT&T GIVES CUSTOMERS MORE CHOICE WITH NEW SHARED WIRELESS DATA PLANS
New Mobile Share Plans Allow Customers to Easily Share Data Across Smartphones, Tablets and Other Devices
New and Current Customers Not Required To Choose or Switch to Shared Plans
DALLAS, JULY 18, 2012 — AT&T* customers will soon have more options in choosing the plan that’s right for them and their mobile devices. With new AT&T Mobile Share plans, available in late August, new and existing customers can share a single bucket of data across smartphones, tablets, and other compatible devices, plus get unlimited talk and text. AT&T Mobile Share plans make it easy for customers to manage their data, voice minutes and texting, without needing to keep track of multiple plans.
Customers can select one of the new shared data plans or choose one of AT&T’s existing individual or family plans. Current customers are not required to switch to the new plans, but can choose to do so without a contract extension. There are no changes to AT&T’s device upgrade policy, which means customers eligible to upgrade to AT&T’s best device price are not required to switch plans. The new plans will also be available for business customers.
With AT&T Mobile Share plans, customers start by choosing how much data they want each month, then choose up to 10 devices to attach to their shared plan, one of which must be a smartphone. Each plan includes tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones and basic or quick messaging phones. The larger the data bucket you choose, the less you pay per gigabyte and the less you pay for each smartphone added to the shared plan.
AT&T Mobile Share allows customers to essentially build a plan to fit their devices and usage. Customers who are more data-centric can choose a larger data bucket. Customers who typically use more voice than data can add multiple smartphones and basic phones and opt for a smaller data bucket.
“We offer customers a broad choice and the best lineup of plans, now enhanced by Mobile Share,” said David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility. “With these new plans, the more you share, the more you save. They’ll be a good fit for a variety of new and existing customers. But if customers want to stay on their current plan or choose from our existing plans, they can do that, too. It’s their choice.
“Today we think of people’s smartphones and tablets sharing a bucket of data. But in the future we’ll see health care monitors, connected cars, security systems and other devices in the home all connected to the mobile Internet,” said Christopher. “Our Mobile Share plans are simple, easy and a great value for individuals or families with multiple mobile Internet devices.”
Mobile Share plans give customers more control over how, where and on what device they use data — which has become more important as people use more data devices. You can choose to use more of your data bucket on your tablet, for example, or tap into your databucket only when needed for devices you use occasionally. And by consolidating data plans, you can take advantage of any data you currently have unused each month by efficiently sharing it across devices.
“The ‘more you share, the more you save’ concept is one that will resonate well with customers because of the value provided through the Mobile Share data plans themselves and in smartphone connection fees,” said Roger Entner, Founder and Lead Analyst of Recon Analytics. “AT&T also is providing its customers with flexibility and choice by keeping its existing data plans and not requiring customers to move to Mobile Share unless they want to. It’s a win-win for both AT&T and its customers.”
To help customers track their data usage, AT&T keeps users informed with courtesy alerts as they near their data allowance for the month. Also, customers can check their usage at anytime online, through the myAT&T mobile app, or by calling *DATA# from their mobile phone.
Each data plan also includes access to more than 30,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots — the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network** among wireless carriers — at no additional charge. Wi-Fi usage at public hotspots, home or office does not count toward the monthly wireless data plan usage.
Customers can learn more about the new plans and determine which plan is best for them at www.att.com/mobileshare.