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Introduces Shared Data Plans

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As expected, AT&T has launched their ‘Mobile Share’ data plans, which are intended to shift customers from individual, per-device data packages to a single pool of data to be shared with multiple family members and devices.

In response to the explosion of smartphone data usage and the huge drop in text messaging and voice calling, Verizon and AT&T are both offering unlimited voice and texting as well as free tethering with all shared data plans.

Whether or not this is a good deal for you will depend on how many smartphones you’re feeding and how much data you’re using:

The plans, like Verizon’s, are somewhat complicated, but the price per gigabyte goes down as you increase the bucket and add users. The plans begin with a 1GB option that costs $40, but there’s a $45 monthly fee to connect each smartphone. Options include a $70 4GB plan with a $40 smartphone fee, and a $90 6GB plan with a $35 fee. The higher end $120 10GB plan, $160 15GB plan, and $200 20GB plan all have a $30 smartphone fee.
If you go over the limit, each additional gigabyte is $15.

If you’re like me and are holding on tight to that unlimited data plan you’ve had for 4 years, there’s no need to worry yet – unless you’re on Verizon.AT&T will let you keep it even if you buy a new subsidized phone, but Verizon is taking a harder line:

AT&T stressed key differences in its plans, including no requirements for new customers to adopt a shared-data plan. Instead, they can choose one of AT&T’s existing plans. In addtion, all current AT&T customers can keep their existing phone plans and still upgrade their devices with a subsidized price, even if they still have unlimited data.

In contrast, Verizon Wireless only will allow customers to keep their unlimited data plans if they buy an unsubsidized phone, which often costs hundreds of dollars more than a phone subsidized by the carrier. Also, new Verizon subscribers are required to sign-up for a shared data plan.

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