ATandT Mobile Shared Plans to Take On Verizon Plans Starting Aug. 23

AT&T is joining Verizon Wireless to offer mobile phone plans that share data over multiple devices, but it will mean that consumers will pay more for data capacity they don't need, says one mobile analyst.

AT&T's recently announced shared-device mobile phone plans will go on sale to consumers Aug. 23, just a month after they were unveiled by the phone carrier in response to Verizon's "Share Everything Plan," which made a big splash in June.

The Aug. 23 availability of the upcoming AT&T Mobile Share plans were unveiled Aug. 6 in a post on AT&T's Consumer Blog from David Christopher, the company's chief marketing officer.

The new mobile plans will allow customers to select a desired amount of monthly data capacity, which can then be shared by up to 10 devices. The idea, according to the shared data plans, is that consumers will no longer have to buy individual service and data contracts for each device they want to use, which could save them money.

AT&T has set up a Mobile Share Planner tool that will allow users to estimate their current data usage on each device they use so they can find the data plan that best fits their needs, according to Christopher's post.

Ultimately, though, these new shared data plans from AT&T and Verizon will likely mean that consumers will pay more for extra, unwanted data capacity that they don't even need because the new plans don't offer cheap options for people who use little data, said Dan Maycock, a mobile analyst with Slalom Consulting.

The AT&T shared plans start at 1GB of data usage, which is much more than most mobile users are eating up today under their current plans, said Maycock. "Most people know that they don€™t use that much data already, so they're going to end up paying for a lot more that they don€™t use."

Verizon's sharing plans also start at 1GB of monthly data use for up to 10 devices.

What it all means, said Maycock, is that mobile carriers will be "making money on data people are not using."

Only about 2 percent of mobile phone users today€“the heaviest data consumers€“use as much as 1GB or 2GB of data on their mobile devices each month, Maycock said.

What such shared plans will do is confuse consumers more, just like the cable television companies have done over the years, to get them to pay more money for bundled services they didn't even ask for, said Maycock. "It will give AT&T more money for its network so they can keep it up. What they're really trying to do is squeeze as much income out of such plans as they can."

The other benefit of shared plans to the phone carriers, said Maycock, is that by bundling the services together, consumers "can't really dissect them to see what they are really paying."

That means carriers can "sneak in costs" that allow consumer's bills to continue to creep upward, said Maycock. "It's a last-ditch effort to squeeze more from consumers."