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 dont use that much data already, so they’re going to end up paying for a lot more that they dont 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 todaythe heaviest data consumersuse 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.”
Comparing ATandT, Verizon Data Plans
Under the upcoming AT&T shared plans, existing customers wont be required to switch, though they can choose to do so without extending their contract.
AT&T is also differentiating itself in a big way from Verizon with its new plans. Customers who are eligible for an upgrade may continue under their existing lower-data capacity plans and are not required to switch to the new shared plans, according to AT&T.
The Mobile Share plans ask that customers first choose how much data they plan to use a month; the price per gigabyte decreases with the more gigabytes chosen:
1GB is $40, plus $45 for each smartphone
4GB is $70, plus $40 for each smartphone
6GB is $90, plus $35 for each smartphone
10GB is $120, plus $30 for each smartphone
15GB is $160, plus $30 for each smartphone
20GB is $200, plus $30 for each smartphone
Additional gigabytes are $15 each.
Each basic or quick-messaging phone (non-smartphone) adds $30 a month to the plan; each laptop, LaptopConnect card or netbook can be tied to the plan for $20 each a month; and tablets and gaming devices can be added for $10 each per month.
Each Mobile Share plan includes unlimited talk and text, as well as tetheringthe ability to extend a devices connection to another deviceand offers subscribers access to AT&Ts more than 30,000 WiFi hotspots.
Using a Mobile Share plan, a couple with two smartphones and a tablet, for example, who estimate that they need 4GB of data per month, would pay $90 plus $35 plus $35 plus $10a total of $170 per month.
Verizons Share Everything plans are slightly differentthe gigabyte pricing is set, as is the pricing per month per devicebut, ultimately, the plans are very competitive. Per month, Verizon charges $40 per smartphone, $30 per basic phone, $20 per Jetpack MiFi hotspot, USB hotspot, netbook and notebook and $10 per tablet. Gigabyte pricing is 1 for $50, 2 for $60, 4 for $70, 6 for $80, 8 for $90, and 10 for $100, with higher allotments also available.
The couple above would also pay $170 per month with a Verizon plan.
A single user with only a smartphone needing only 1GB of data per month would pay $85 on the AT&T plan and $90 a month with Verizon. Should that user instead need 6GB a month, the charge would change to $125 on AT&T and $120 on Verizon.
On AT&T a family of four with four smartphones, needing a collective 20GB of data per month would pay $350 a month$200 for the data and $30 per smartphone. On Verizon, the tally would be $310$150 for 20GB and $40 per smartphone. If that family had five members with smartphones, however, the cost would change to $350 on both carriers.