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AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is adding options to its wireless plans that will let users share a bucket of data across up to 10 devices, including smartphones and tablets.

The carrier has been talking about making this move for a while now and plans to launch the new "Mobile Share" plans at the end of August, just two months after Verizon Wireless introduced its "Share Everything" buckets. (See Verizon: One Data Bucket to Rule Them All.)

The optional plans include unlimited voice and text, and they must include at least one smartphone. On top of the basic per month charge that ranges from $40 for the 1GB plan to $200 for the 20GB plan, AT&T is charging US$45 per smartphone added to the bucket on its lowest (1GB) plan, but that additional charge decreases to $35 or $30 depending on which monthly plan the user has chosen.

After smartphones are added, AT&T charges an additional $30 per month for each basic and quick messaging phone added, $20 per laptop, laptop connect card and netbook added, and $10 per month for each additional tablet or gaming device. AT&T also charges $15 per additional gigabyte of data.

Verizon charges the same to add devices on its Share Everything plans, except that smartphone additions are always $40, meaning that AT&T's plans are more economical at 1GB, the same at 4GB, and Verizon wins at 6GB and 10GB:

Table 1: AT&T & Verizon's Data-Sharing Options
Shared Data Plans (Up to 10 Devices) Monthly Cost on AT&T Monthly Cost on Verizon
1GB $40 $50
2GB N/A $60
4GB $70 $70
6GB $90 $80
8GB N/A $90
10GB $120 $100
15GB $160 N/A
20GB $200 N/A
Sources: AT&T, Verizon Wireless.




AT&T isn't requiring its customers to make the move to Mobile Share, nor is it charging a fee to do so. Verizon, on the other hand, is phasing out its old unlimited plans for the buckets. AT&T breaks down the new plans, here.

Why this matters
While not unexpected, the move to shared data is a big change for operators, albeit one that makes sense from the wireless providers' standpoint given the number of devices they're encouraging users to buy. The plans on both operators may lessen costs for some families and businesses, but they can make mobile data usage more expensive for individuals in certain cases. With increased access costs and tack-on charges for additional devices, customers may find themselves paying more for a data bucket than they did when their bills were separate.

For more
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:27:41 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that AT&T isn't forcing customers into this the way Verizon is. I'm sure a lot will opt to do it - families and businesses mainly - but the choice is nice and gives AT&T a leg up.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:27:36 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

Does anyone want to join me in saying that the next logical step is for consumers to just pay by the bit?


I'd rather just pay for what I use vs. guess how much I might use and prepay on that amount. In my giant, cavernous head, that equates to me giving AT&T an interest-free loan for most of the month.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:27:35 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

I like that idea and if their data alerts and tracking apps are good, you shouldn't be in for sticker shock.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:27:35 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

Yes, that's really the key. Consumer apps should be really easy to use and completely accurate at helping estimate and track billing.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:27:21 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

Like gas, too, we know the price per gallon but we hand the cashier at the 7-Eleven our alloted spend -- $35 on pump #3, please -- and we let the pump and the register do the math for us. 


Surely with all the great minds running around our nation's telcos we can come up with a system that texts consumers as they approach certain budget thresholds and asks what to do next.


 

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:27:21 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

One of the problems is, nobody at the telcos seems to be thinking with the consumer in mind. Everything is done to benefit them first, and that erodes trust. I mean -- imagine the gas station saying, "um, sir, that is a different car than you filled up last week, so I need to charge you a $30 activation fee for this second car to use our gas." It would be great to eliminate the bogosity and the BS around wireless marketing and pricing. The "plans" are the biggest part of the problem right now.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:27:21 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

One of the problems is, nobody at the telcos seems to be thinking with the consumer in mind. Everything is done to benefit them first, and that erodes trust. I mean -- imagine the gas station saying, "um, sir, that is a different car than you filled up last week, so I need to charge you a $30 activation fee for this second car to use our gas." It would be great to eliminate the bogosity and the BS around wireless marketing and pricing. The "plans" are the biggest part of the problem right now.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:27:21 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

The whole guess-how-much you're going to use thing shows a carrier-centric view of the world. Wonder which carrier might try Phil's idea, which I think could radically spur greater adoption.


I mean -- it's not like they need to worry whether people are going to use mobile broadband, right? Instead of trying to fob off "data calculation meters" and other ridiculous things as something that makes sense, why not pay for what you use... simple... works with milk and other commodities.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:27:21 PM
re: AT&T Joins Verizon in the Shared Data Pool

The whole guess-how-much you're going to use thing shows a carrier-centric view of the world. Wonder which carrier might try Phil's idea, which I think could radically spur greater adoption.


I mean -- it's not like they need to worry whether people are going to use mobile broadband, right? Instead of trying to fob off "data calculation meters" and other ridiculous things as something that makes sense, why not pay for what you use... simple... works with milk and other commodities.

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