AT&T to make all new customers sign up for Mobile Share plans

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) confirmed it will make all of its new customers sign up for its Mobile Share shared data plans, in effect doing away with its traditional voice and data plans.

The news, which was first reported by Engadget and later confirmed by AT&T in a company blog post, is a marked shift for AT&T, which has let new customers sign up for its Mobile Share plans or its traditional offerings. That stance stood in contrast to rival Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which has been making new customers sign up for its Share Everything shared data plans since they were introduced in the summer of 2012.

"Beginning Oct. 25, we're streamlining the plans we offer new customers. Our customers have expressed an overwhelming preference for simplified options that allow them to share data across multiple devices," the carrier said in its blog post. "New customers will have the choice of any of our Mobile Share plans, which start as low as $50 a month for a basic phone or $70 a month for a smartphone--both of which include unlimited talk and text and 300 MB of data that can be shared. In 95 percent of the new customer scenarios, Mobile Share offers the same or better price with additional value."

AT&T said there will be no change for current customers, who can choose to switch to Mobile Share or stay on their current plan, even if they upgrade their device.

The carrier positioned the change as responding to customer demand, arguing that "Mobile Share is the most popular plan that new customers choose when coming to AT&T." However, the change is likely going to shift more of AT&T's revenue to mobile data since Mobile Share plans are priced based on how much data customers use per month.

As of the end of the second quarter, AT&T said it had 4.3 million Mobile Share accounts serving 13 million subscribers, up from 3.3 million accounts and 10 million subscribers at the end of the first quarter. The carrier said more than a quarter of accounts on Mobile Share are choosing 10 GB or higher plans, and that more than 15 percent of its Mobile Share subscribers are switching over from unlimited data plans.

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. Customers are no longer required to have at least one smartphone as part of the plans. Consumers can share data between up to 10 devices; businesses can add more.

All four Tier 1 carriers offer some form of shared data plans for business customers, though Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) still offer unlimited smartphone data plans to consumers.

For more:
- see this AT&T blog post
- see this Engadget article

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AT&T offers cheaper Mobile Share shared data plan options
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Sprint, in response to Verizon and T-Mobile, launches shared data for business customers
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Article updated to note that AT&T's Mobile Share plans do not require at least one smartphone.