AT&T follows Verizon with 'Mobile Share' shared data plans

After months of dropping hints about shared data plans, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) today unveiled its shared data offering just weeks after Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) introduced similar plans for customers who want to pool their data minutes across up to 10 different devices. The big difference between AT&T's plans, dubbed "Mobile Share," and Verizon's "Share Everything" plans is that AT&T will not require new customers or those who purchase subsidized phones via upgrades to sign up for the new plans.

Instead, new AT&T customers can select either the new plans or AT&T's current plans, and current customers can switch to the new plans without extending their contract.  Verizon currently requires all new customers that purchase subsidized phones to sign up for its Share Everything plans. The new AT&T Mobile Share plans will be available in late August and will also be available for business customers.

Similar to Verizon's plans, AT&T's Mobile Share plans include unlimited voice minutes and messaging, and are priced based upon how much data is used. There is also a per device monthly access charge. AT&T requires at least one smartphone to be part of the plan.

Here's a breakdown of AT&T's Mobile Share plans:

  • $40 per month: 1 GB of shared data (each smartphone costs $45 per month)
  • $70 per month: 4 GB of shared data (each smartphone costs $40 per month)
  • $90 per month: 6 GB of shared data (each smartphone costs $35 per month)
  • $120 per month: 10 GB of shared data (each smartphone costs $30 per month)
  • $160 per month: 15 GB of shared data (each smartphone costs $30 per month)
  • $200 per month: 20 GB of shared data (each smartphone costs $30 per month)

Basic and quick messaging phones can be added for $30 per month, laptops and netbooks for $20 per month and tablets and gaming devices for $10 per month. Under AT&T's new shared plans, customers will pay an extra $15 per GB of data they use beyond their limit. Currently, for individual customers, AT&T charges $20 per month for 300 MB, $30 for 3 GB and $50 per 5 GB.

Under Verizon's Share Everything plans, customers pay a monthly fee for each device on the account: smartphones cost $40 each, basic features phones cost $30, USB modems, Jetpack mobile hotspots and netbooks cost $20 and tablets cost $10, and can be added on a no-contract basis. Then, customers choose how much data they want to share.  Prices range from $50 for 1 GB to $100 for 10 GB.

So far Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA have not introduced shared data plans and T-Mobile has been very critical of the concept. The company recently called Verizon's Share Everything plans complicated and punitive. "Before these plans were announced we said this approach would not deliver a better value to customers and would be complicated for families to manage," Harry Thomas, T-Mobile's director of segment marketing, wrote in a company blog post. "Now that we have the details, we're even more convinced."

For more:
- see this release
- see this CNET article
- see this Reuters article

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