AT&T mobile data plan“The more you share, the more you save” is the concept behind AT&T’s new Mobile Share wireless data plans announced today and scheduled for availability in late August. The plans offer unlimited talk and messaging and allow multiple mobile data devices to share a pool of gigabytes, making the plans quite similar to Verizon’s “Share Everything” plans launched in late June.

As with Verizon’s plan, as many as 10 AT&T devices will be able to share a pool of gigabytes. But while Verizon charges a flat $40 a month per smartphone, AT&T charges $45 for the first smartphone, with the price of each additional smartphone declining by five dollars a month until the $30 level is reached.

Both companies charge the same amount monthly for other devices added to the plan – including basic phones ($30), laptops and netbooks ($20) and tablets ($10).

On the data side, AT&T’s plan is more economical at a relatively low data allowance of 1 GB per month ($40 versus $50 for the same allowance from Verizon). But at the 4 GB level, costs are identical — $70 a month for both AT&T and Verizon. Above that level, Verizon’s plan is more economical. While AT&T charges $90 a month for 6 GB of data, Verizon charges $80 for the same amount. And at 10 GB of data, AT&T charges $120 while Verizon charges $100.

The cost differences are so miniscule that it seems unlikely anyone will switch from one company to the other over them. But without this plan, AT&T might have seen a few defections to Verizon among high-value multiple-data device users.
David Christopher, chief marketing officer for AT&T Mobility, made an interesting comment in today’s announcement. “Today we think of people’s smartphones and tablets sharing a bucket of data,” he said. “But in the future we’ll see health care monitors, connected cars, security systems and other devices in the home all connected to the mobile Internet.”

Recognizing that, shared data plans certainly seem to be the wave of the future, so we may as well get used to the new math involved in calculating the best deal.

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