AT&T announces new shared data plans

AT&T announces new shared data plans

AT&T this morning announced new shared data plans for iPhone, iPad, and other devices. The new plans launch in August, and will be available in addition to existing, individual plans. David Christopher, chief marketing officer, AT&T Mobility said in a statement included in the announcement:

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. Our Mobile Share plans are simple, easy and a great value for individuals or families with multiple mobile Internet devices.”

Depending on what you currently pay for data, and how many devices you have in your household, it could indeed be a better value than traditional per-device plans. However, the new plans are still far from really simple -- rather than a flat rate for a bucket of data, once you've picked the size of your data bucket, you then have to pay an additional fee per device. The bigger your data bucket, the lower your per smartphone fee, but dumbphones, computers, and tablets each have a static per-device fee. Phew.

Here's how AT&T breaks them down:

So let's say you have a family of 4 with 2 iPhone, 2 iPads, 2 messenger phones for the kids, and a data stick for a MacBook, and you're light data users, here's your math (turns Calculator.app sideways...):

  • $120 for 10GB + ($30 x 2 smartphones) + ($30 x 2 dumbphones) + ($20 x 1 laptop) + ($10 x 2 tablets) = $320 a month

If you're a single geek with an iPhone, Android phone, iPad, you'll tether off your other devices, and you're a heavy data user, here's your math:

  • $200 for 20GB + ($30 x 2 smartphones) + ($10 x 1 tablets) = $270 a month.

Again, not simple, but also again, it could add up to considerable savings over current, separate plans.

Here's another key bit:

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.

So AT&T won't force anyone off their existing plan and onto a shared plan, nor will they strip anyone's legacy "unlimited" plan.

Full press release below available via AT&T, below. Anyone planning on making the switch to a shared plan? If so, how much do you figure it will save you?

Source: AT&T

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 34 comments. Add yours.

jmecca09 says:

For once AT&T seems better than VZW. At least they're not making their customer's switch from unlimited if they upgrade.

damien584 says:

what a junk plan. cool thing is if corporate discounts apply.

pdoobs says:

I'm curious to see how the corporate discount is applied to these plans. If it's similar to the current policy I think the shared data plans will save me $30/month. I can live with that :)

jlewsader says:

From what I can see from the AT&T examples you do NOT pay per user AND per device, you only pay plan + # of smartphones + additional devices.

AT&T's example shows $90 for 6GB plan + ($35 x 2 smartphone) + ($10 x 1 tablet) = $170/mo

Laelipoo says:

"rather than a flat rate for a bucket of data, once you've picked the size of your data bucket, you then have to pay an additional fee per user, and per device."

I went on AT&T.com, read the blog post, and cannot find this anywhere. Even on their chart, which lists a shared plan with two smartphones and a tablet, they don't have an 'extra fee per user', just the charge for each device. Their chart breaks down as such:

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Here's an example of sharing your data
AT&T Mobile Share makes it easy to share your data with several
different devices. For example, a family with two smartphones can
add one tablet to share 6GB of data, plus unlimited talk and text.

Mobile Share plan with 6 GB ($90) + 1 Smartphone ($35) + 1 Smartphone ($35) plus 1 Tablet (10) for a months charge of $170. [source: https://www.att.com/shop/wireless/data-plans.html#fbid=uOC1cBy96CE?tab2 ]

No 'extra fee', no charge for having more than one person. I think Rene's math is off.

Winski says:

Since AT&T clearly spends 90% of their marketing time thinking up new ways to extract MORE MONEY from their existing - HIGHLY AGITATED existing customers for fewer services, ultimately their is an easier way. If you are in a position to do so, to send Randall and his gang of criminals packing - SWITCH TO A NO-CONTRACT-FLAT DATA PRICE PLAN.... They are becoming rather plentiful, are offered with or without devices and most will serve the single or multi-user requirement just fine... Tell Randall he needs to follow in the footsteps of his counterparts from T-Mumble and VANISH.

sting7k says:

Are they still going to offer the regular plans? Or are they ditching them like Verizon did for new customers?

jlewsader says:

Most likely they are going to only offer the new plans to new customers but existing customers can stay with the standard plans and "legacy" unlimited plans

stephen007 says:

That will be interesting to watch. If (and we don't know yet) they only offer the new plans to new customers this could really be a bad deal. If I did the math right then 2 smartphones (my situation) would be $150 for 4Gb ($70 for 4Gb + 2 x $40 for the 2 phones). $150 the new way vs. $50 that we currently pay. That is an AMAZING price increase. We'll have to see what happens.

Update (because you can't delete comments): I misunderstood. I thought this was just the data plan changing. It's not. It would replace our whole plan, including voice & texting too.

tail24 says:

“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.

From the press release. Makes it sound like they will keep there regular plans also, for people possibly with only 1 smart phone or people that dont need unlimited talk and text.

rustymini says:

As far as I understand they will still have individual plans-even for new customers who want them. I think it's nice because VZW ditched them all for shared family plans. :(

drache713 says:

Here's my question - with these new plans, do they allow you to use mobile hotspot without any additional cost like Verizon lets you, or will they still charge you extra like they do now? That's the big deciding factor for me whether to switch or not

robertpetry says:

Ditto. If hotspot is extra I will need to switch the whole family to Verizon when iPhone 5 comes out.

drache713 says:

Found it reading the press release - "Each plan includes tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones and basic or quick messaging phones."

so it is allowed, phew!

dandbj13 says:

It is a sad day when I need an accountant to choose a plan for my, simple to use, smartphone.

USAFRetired says:

Good one..LOL. I'm sure VZW and ATT will include that as an optional feature you'll have to pay for.

Trusttee says:

This plan actually gets me and my wife an extra 2 GB per month for about $10 cheaper than what we pay now. Heck, I'd throw in the iPad for that to get it covered (if hotspot isn't free). Sounds like AT&T is doing it's customers a favor (we think) this time around.

USAFRetired says:

Just make sure you keep in mind that you're also paying a monthly access fee for each smart phone.

nickpthemft says:

I'm sorry, but that is SO F'ING EXPENSIVE! Since when did data charges get so crazy? I've been with AT&T since the 3G and so has my unlimited plan. To me, it doesn't seem feasible to keep mobile data if they're going to charge rates like that. Insane.

Edit: Slightly more palatable now that I realized I missed a key component in the AT&T Calculus - unlimited talk/text. Right now, we pay about $165/month for 2 4S's with 1400 minutes and unlimited data on each (with a throttled limit, of course). It's still not fantastic, but more reasonable than I anticipated.

TumnusMr says:

You also don't have to pay extra for tethering under the new plans so anyone currently tethering will also save about $15 per device

rich47 says:

This seems to save money for my family, even when we add in our iPad (which is Verizon, but we may need to swap it for an AT&T version). It would be great if AT&T has a simple calculator on their web site so I can calculate what my savings would be based on recent usage patterns.

tail24 says:

No need to do this... you get free tethering. Just cancel verizon and tether them.

dloveprod says:

Right now with At&t we're paying $260 for 2 phones 2 ipads, with Verizon it will be $240 plus Lte, Verizon wins.

nite732 says:

I think this benefit's families most. It includes unlimeted text and talk also, and tethering. I have five iphones and two ipads on my account at 325 a month. If I do the 120 plan I only pay 290 so thats a savings for me. Plus I go from 2100 minutes to unlimited and thats only about 41 dollars per device. That acceptable because I'm in a wi fi rich area.

spugbrap says:

My family with 3 iPhones currently pays $50+9.95+9.95 for the cheapest shared voice plan (550 minutes/month, which is no longer even available), because we don't use that many voice minutes, plus $30 for unlimited shared text, and $30+30+30 for 2gb data each (more than we need), for a total of about $190.

With the new shared data plans, we'd pay either $40+45+45+45=$175 for 1gb shared (might be fine) or $70+40+40+40=$190 for 4gb shared (preferred).

Wow, look at that, we can pay the exact same amount for 2gb less data than we have now (or, we could save $15 for 5gb less data than we have now). Yes, technically we could save money with the shared data plans, but it's not much savings at all (if any), and we'd be getting less data than we have now.

Gloomy50 says:

These shared data plans make no sense for anyone with basic phones on their accounts. I have 2 iPhones one wi $30 unlimited data, one with $25 2gb. I have 3 basic phones. We have 700 min talk(more than enough) and unlimited texts. That equals
$60 + 30 + 30 + 25 + ($10x4) = $185 minus 19 % corp discount.

New plan for 4gb data would be
$70 + 40 + 40 + (30x3) = $240

I think I'll stick with my current plan. I'm thankful that I'm allowed to do that!

Damitol says:

A 6GB plan is pretty much a wash for me at this point price-wise. With our current "$10 per additoinal phone" family plan (3 smart and 1 dumb), unlimited family text and barely using any minutes each month (most of our family and friends are on AT&T) we don't gain anything but lose my wife's unlimited data plan (although she doesn't really take advantage of it). That said, when the next "new iPad" comes out next spring, I will be ready to upgrade my iPad 2, so I may need to revisit. I don't foresee using it on LTE that much (I have a wi-fi only now), but if I can use it anywhere, or at least tether for $10 more per month, it may make it worth my while.

Of course I'll also need to factor in all of the various fees and taxes on top of the plan rate...

TumnusMr says:

Current plan: $60 (for 700 minutes) + $10 (second iPhone) + $45x2 (2 4GB data plans with tethering - 4GB was the smallest tethering plan available at the time, I believe it is 5GB now) + $30 (family unlimited text) = $190

We have never totaled above 4GB a month in our combined data usage so under the new plans we can save quite a lot through sharing a smaller data bundle:

New Plan: $70 (for unlimited talk, text, and 4GB shared data with tethering) + $40x2 (for the 2 iPhones) = $150

That's quite a saving for us. Definitely switching when the plans come out.

Even if we needed more data, we could go with the 10GB plan and still come out at $180.

Basically it looks like anyone wanting tethering (which admittedly they should have not charged extra for in the first place) and unlimited text can save quite a bit over the current plans.

paleh0rse says:

Two phones currently using the grandfathered "unlimited, but throttled at 5GB each" = $157 WITH fees/taxes.

New 10GB shared plan would = $180 PLUS fees/taxes.

No-frickin'-thankyou!! :(

GreenDize12 says:

I think this may actually be Cheaper for me.

My current plan is $60 for 700 min, $30 for unlimited text/m-2-m, $20 for 2 extra lines, and $80 for 6.3GB of data combine. I also have 2 prepay $30 for 3GB of data for iPad separately so that's an estimate grand total of $250 not including taxes with no corporate discount (which I still need to put my family plan on). I should also note that I mostly use Data on our iPads (about 2.9GB each one) while our iPhone average 750MB each month (out of 3GB). So by putting our iPads on this shared plan, that's were the savings start to kick in.

So with this new Data Share plan I'm looking at this.

Unlimited Talk/Text with 6GB shared data ($90) + 3 iPhones ($35x3=$105) + 2 iPads ($20) = $215 - 20% corporate discount (which I will sign my plan up for when I receive my next paycheck) = $172!!!

Yup, this is a steal for me alright!!! Even if 6GB isn't enough, I can get the 10GB plan for $45 more and it'll still be $45 cheaper than what I'm paying for now and this time I get tethering as well.

SMT says:

No savings for me...

$70 for 700min (more than enough), +10 for second iPhone, +$25 for 2GB, +$5 for 200MB = $110 before 24% corp. discount (I pay about $95 a mo)...

Cheapest new plan seems to be:
$40+$45+$45=$130

Sure I would gain more features, but they are not something I would use/need...

kimhill says:

Am I missing something here?

According to AT&T, I can currently get 450 voice minutes + 2GB data for $64.99:

http://www.att.com/Common/about_us/files/iphone/consumer_fact_sheet_ip4.pdf

The new pricing for half the data (1GB - one phone) would be $85 ($130 for two)
Next step up (4GB) would be $110

I don't need unlimited voice or SMS, but I do need lots of data, so the new AT&T prices for me look like a big price hike- with two phones, I get more minutes & SMS, but 75% less data at $65 per phone...

anncoop says:

Many people are using data plans in their mobile phones. AT&T, the second largest mobile carrier in the nation, has introduced “shared data plans,” currently only offered by Verizon Wireless, the largest carrier. AT&T's shared data programs will be good for a lot of people, but others are likely to get stuck with a bigger phone bill.