updated 09:35 am EDT, Wed July 18, 2012
Carrier to keep existing options
AT&T has announced that it will soon offer shared data plans, following on the heels of similar subscription changes introduced by Verizon. The collective "Mobile Share" plans enable customers to connect several devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to a common data pool. Both AT&T and Verizon offer plans starting at 1GB, however the carriers utilize different pricing structures for devices and data tiers.
On the bottom end, AT&T will charge subscribers $40 for 1GB of data and $45 for each smartphone on the plan. This equates to a $5 savings compared to Verizon, which charges $50 for 1GB of data and $40 for each smartphone, if there is only a single smartphone on the plan. Adding a second smartphone brings the total monthly payout to match Verizon's scheme, and Verizon becomes cheaper if customers have three or more smartphones.
The second tier in AT&T's scheme charges $70 for 4GB of data and $40 for each smartphone, skipping past the 2GB option offered by Verizon. Stepping up to 6GB of data for $90 brings the per-smartphone charge down to $35, while the 10GB ($120) plan, 15GB ($160) option and 20GB ($200) tier each fetch $30 for every smartphone.
Each plan includes tethering as a free option, along with unlimited talk and text for traditional communication. Subscribers can also add notebooks, hotspots and USB modems for $20 each month, or a tablet or gaming device for $10 each month.
For customers who accidentally exceed the data allowance, AT&T has matched Verizon's rate of $15 for each gigabyte in additional data. AT&T lacks an alternative to Verizon's 2GB add-on for $10, however.
Mobile Share plans are expected to be available in late August. Taking a clear dig at Verizon, AT&T promises it won't force customers to adopt a shared plan or pay full price for device upgrades if they want to stay grandfathered into an unlimited data plan.