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News: AT&T to Offer Pooled Data Plans

by on July 18, 2012

About a month after Verizon announced theirs, AT&T will begin offering a pooled data plan for individuals and families, known as Mobile Share. The plans are priced similarly to Verizon’s, based around sharing a bucket of data with unlimited voice and text packages. This was originally speculated a few months ago.

The plans will begin in August:

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:

First, someone must pick a data amount and add a smartphone. Then, they can add other devices (including smartphones, basic phones, tablets, laptops, etc. In other words, you can’t use this plan with just an iPad. Also, the big difference from Verizon’s plan is that the price per smartphone changes based on the amount of data (the more data you buy, the cheaper the smartphone access). We reformatted the table similar to our Verizon one:

Step 1 Step 2
Monthly Line Access
(per device)
& Messages
Shared Data Data Cost Smartphone Access Cost (Each)
Smartphones: Based on Shared Data Amount
(See Far Right Column)

Basic Phones: $30

Laptops/LaptopConnect Cards/Netbooks: $20

Tablets/Gaming Devices: $10

Unlimited 1GB $40 $45
4GB $70 $40
6GB $90 $35
10GB $120 $30
15GB $160 $30
20GB $200 $30
Extra Data $15 per GB

While this seems pretty good, it may end up costing some a bit more, especially if they have a lot of basic phones on the account or aren’t big texters. For example, a 750 peak minute family plan with three lines, unlimited texting (although this gives unlimited calling), and an iPhone (3GB) data would be about $140 before taxes, fees, and discounts. With these new options, the same plan would be $145, but only include 1GB of data. Going up to 4GB of data would be $170. However, this plan could save some money for those with more than two smartphones, tablets, etc. in a household.

The other big benefit will also be the very basic plan – for $85, an iPhone user would get unlimited calling, unlimited texting, and 1GB of data to use. Compare that to an “old” individual plan around $80, which did not include include unlimited calling and only 300MB of data. That’s not bad at all. Adding an iPad to this plan would only be an extra $10 and could be handy for those who want to get all their gadgets online, but not use a lot of data.

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