AT&T announces shared data plans

AT&T Announces Shared Data Plans

Today, AT&T has announced the company will offer shared data plans for those customers who have multiple Windows Phones or other smartphones. Available in late August the plans range from 1gb to 20gb with monthly fees as high as $200 plus $30 per smartphone. The shared data plans will also allow customers to add devices, other than smartphones, for an additional monthly fee.  Go over your monthly data allotment and it'll cost you an extra $15 per gigabyte.

There will be no changes to AT&T's current device upgrade policy that allows eligible customers to upgrade phones without being required to switch plans.  Existing individual and family plans will still remain available for AT&T customers as well.

AT&T Data Pricing

The plan is limited to ten devices, one of which must be a smartphone, and includes tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones and quick messaging phones. AT&T Mobility's Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher sees the new plan as sharing a bucket of data.

“With these new plans, the more you share, the more you save. They’ll be a good fit for a variety of new and existing customers. But if customers want to stay on their current plan or choose from our existing plans, they can do that, too. It’s their choice."

With the announcement, AT&T joins Verizon and their Share Everything plan by offering shared data. No word if we'll see rollover data as we do with voice minutes (wouldn't that be nice).

So...what do you think? Shared data a good idea?  Or does the pricing need to come down a bit before these plans become more attractive?

Source: AT&T


Reader comments

AT&T announces shared data plans


That would be sweet but theyll probably never do that again. If only they could at least do a 50 dollar unlimited like tmoblie

I have $20 unlimited, with 1500 texts, and 200 mms included. Not looking forward to getting rid of that. Been with them since 1995.

My company is doing this for all the graphics designers here in our Austin firm. AT&T doesn't know we're all related, right? We need 4G LTE for our heavy files and are pretty happy with AT&T.

I already pay $270/ month and don't see how this will lower my monthly costs, but I will he going to art to discuss it with them and see what my savings would be as soon as the Surface comes out

I am in the same situation. My personal plan is unlimited for $30, but i pay for my three kids' data plan.

Announcements so far have only talked about Microsoft stores. Also, there has been no announcement of cell network capabilities to my knowledge, so your best shot would probably be something USB-based, or to use a tethered phone hotspot for the Surface - unless they reveal something before launch they haven't said yet about network connectivity.

Most likely you would have to have a separate hotspot device or hotspot from your phone for the Surface. I hope they don't add mobile radios, because it would jack up the cost of the device.

Regardless of it being on AT&T, I would get WiFi only and tether to my phones unlimited data plan ($30 A month plus $20 to tether, only $50 a month for 2 devices to have unlimited data).

From what I can tell I'll be paying the same amount of money but get 2 more gig of data. The only problem is my daughter will just use up all the data and then my wife and I won't have any to use!! I wish we could set limits ourselves on individual lines so that at a set amount of used data it would just quit working!!

Hey $30 got me unlimited data like 5 years ago with AT&T, I just have rolled it over. Canada is always a few years behind, soon it will go up in price too.

Yeah have to agree with others unless this is saving me money not going to be appealing. My 2 year old doesn't need a data plan yet :)

It would have to come down a lot. We have five lines on our plan, that's $150 right there plus another $120 minimum for a decent amount of data plus taxes and fees. I really don't see how that is going to save me any money. I have a data block on my kids' lines (two Windows Phones and a feature phone) so I am only paying $60 a month for data access currently.

How did you ever get them to put a data block on a smartphone?  Did you get your kids non-AT&T phones?  A lady at work (about 2 years ago) had a horrible time trying to get AT&T to block the data on a Samsung Blackjack because her kid wanted a QWERTY keyboard but AT&T continued to say all Smartphones HAD to have a datapackage.  I know her phone was out of contract, because it was my old/used phone that I sold her.

Find an old feature phone, give them the imei and tell them to block data access on that line. Then insert that sim card into the smartphone. One bad thing about that is that line won't be able to receive MMS, only SMS.

That only works if the new Smartphone you are moving to is NOT AT&T branded.  As soon as you change to the new Smartphone, they pick up that Phone# is using IMEI# and they know IMEI# is an AT&T Smartphone.  I guess if you completely turn off the cellular data connection also, that may be what you have to do to get it to work?  I figure anytime you make a call it relays that info though.

I know of a better shared ATT data plan.  Its called Straight Talk unlimited everything for $45 per line.  These shyster ripoff plans from ATT are A JOKE!!!!  For two lines I'd pay $150 and get only 4Gb!!!  WTF!?!?!  Let's see, I could pay $90 for unlimited or $150 for unlimited.....wow hard choice there!!!!

If not for the towers paid for by those of us on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mo and Sprint, could Straight-Talk exist? I'm thinking, no.

Really? I am switching to straight talk also because of the new shared data plans. But representing a company with bad spelling will only scare away the potential customers. people start to get idea's. Like only low IQ and lower income people use pre-paid. Thats certainly not true but just dont make it seem that way. Thank you.

You don't understand. They have shitty phones and no windows phones. They're speeds suck and coverage. Only thing good about it is that it is cheap.

Who said the plan had to make it cheaper?  It makes sense in that it is much easier to understand...You pay for a data pool and minutes and then pay for each person eating from the pool.  Currently our bills are confusing as get...$60 for minutes, $10 per line, $30 for data, $10 for text or $30 for family text...  Also, if I calculated yours out (Mins+Lines+Data+FamText) I get you should be about $250...if you can use the 10GB plan (2.5GB each instead of 3GB), Cost is $120+$30*4, you should save $10 and get unlimited minutes.

At first glance, this seems like a good deal if you have two or three phones on the same plan, but once you do the math, it doesn't seem like a deal at all.  For example, if my fiancee and I were to share 10GB, we'd pay $120 for the 10GB plan and $30 per smartphone (2 phones = $60) for a total of $180 for the both of us.  Plus tax that'd be like $200, so $100 each for 5GB of data... I guess that's not all that great of a deal.  
Four people sharing 20GB would be $200 for the 20GB, $120 for the four phones, so $320 total divided by four users = $80 each plus tax... which again probably rounds out to somewhere around $90-100 per person.

wait, you thought this plan would be pro consumer? Bwaahahahahahahahahahahaha....  Really?  hahahalololololol
I didn't know there were still people who thought ATT did things for consumers because they "care"

So we have to pay for a data plan AND pay a smartphone fee?  WTH? What does it matter if the data is used by a smartphone rather than a feature phone?
This saves me no money.

Whether or not it's called a "smartphone fee", it's all semantics. At the end of the day it comes down to what your final bill will be for the amount of phones you have and the data you get. Just tally up the competition's bill and then make your decision. Ignore phrases like "smartphone fee" because it will only distract you from the bottom line.

I agree with this comment.  What the heck difference does it make what kind of phone I'm using if they're measuring/limiting my data usage???

The problem is the more we do on these data services will just increase over time and the more data we will consume and just be charged overages or be have to adjust plans to cost more and unfortunately I don't think we will ever see the return to unlimited data.

I may be reading the tables wrong, but it doesn't seem like it'll save much (any?) by going to the shared data plan. Also, whatever little is saved doesn't seem to justify the anxiety of running over the data limit when multiple devices share the same plan. It could be a worthy deal if a household has kids that text a lot, but I'm still pessimistic about it being a good value overall.

Let me see if I get this straight...Right now I pay $130 after Premier discounts for 3 phones, which includes one WP with a 200MB data plan (currently it's $15 a month but it's part of the $130) and two dumbphones.
So...if one of my other two dumbphones gets upgraded to a smartphone, without shared data plan it would simply be an extra $15 if it also has a 200MB data plan. Total would be $145.
If I get this right, with this shared data plan, to convert one of my other two dumbphones to a smartphone (1GB shared plan) would be $40 + $90 (two smartphones at $45 each). That's $130, plus $10 for the third dumbphone it's $140 plus fees minus my Premier discounts...sounds like I come out a bit ahead, especially having 1GB shared instead of 200MB on each smartphone.
Were the above calculations done correctly, anyone?

If I read the tables right, you'll pay $160 (not including taxes and discounts) under the new shared plan. That's $40 (1GB Plan) + $45 (WP device) + $45 (newly upgraded smartphone) + $30 (dumbphone) = $160. That $10 is for tablets and gaming devices, while the dumbphone is mostly likely categorized under the $30 "Basic and Quick messaging phones".

Ah, I didn't take into account the $30 dumbphone fee. I was thinking it would stay at $9.99 but that's only if I don't change plans. I'll still see what it comes down to after discounts, but otherwise it doesn't look so good unless I really want 1GB of data. I use mostly WiFi so the 200MB so far is enough for me, but one never knows when that might change.
Thank you!

While the actual data part of this plan may be sketchy, it does offer unilimted voice and texting. So that could be valuable if you and your household spend a lot of time on the phone and/or text a lot.

I thought about that. So far though we've never gone over voice minutes and I'm the only one that uses text messaging the unlimited voice/text is not a deal maker...yet.

I was going to point that out also.  That, and dumbphone will have access to Data now where as before it had to be completely disconnected.  Since it is a dumb phone that will basically just mean email, but that is an added benifit none the less.

Forgot about that, thanks.
Funny but all my mistakes result in an increase. Great.
My contract is up in November. I'll be doing some serious number crunching and carrier shopping during the holidays.

Am I reading this table wrong?  It just doesn't make any sense.  I currently have 3 windows phone that I pay $25 each for 2GB of data totalling 6GB between the 3 phones and for a grand total of $75 in data charges.  This table shows that I would pay $90 for 6GB plus $35 for each phone on top of that totalling $195.  How could this plan be anywhere near good for anyone?  That is about 150% increase in price to share the data.....or did I read the table wrong?

What they're trying to pull here is give you unlimited minutes and texting with the data plan. Normally people take the lowest voice (minutes) plan when selecting their individual plans. That's why most people won't see a cost benefit to moving to this shared plan because not everyone opts for unlimited voice. If AT&T really wanted to offer a viable solution, they would allow for a truly shared data plan that allows people to select their own voice and texting options.

Yep, I was reading the table wrong.  I didn't realize it came with unlimited text and talk.  It won't save me any money, actually will add about $10, but much closer. 

It's really about the total bill. What is your total bill now? I know you mentioned $75 of it is data, but what is your total bill?

I don't think these plans are for normal people with 3 to 4 phone it is going to cost us more money, the cell companies are out of control.. the price keeps going up and up and up and up and up...we get NO BREAKS...

Going to save me money for sure. With corporate discount I pay $123 for a Lumia 900 with 1000 texts and 3gb data and an iPhone 4S with 1000 texts and 200mb data. They share 750 anytime minutes. With the new 4gb shared plan, I'd get unlimited texts/talk and share 4gb between the two devices for $110 - and that's before any corporate discount. So I save $13 a month, add 800 mb of data, and add unlimited texts/talk. That's a win/win for me. A comparable plan from Straight Talk would be $45 each for unlimited everything ($90 per month) - so I'd have to pay $20 more to stay with ATT, but I also get a phone subsidized from ATT every 18 months. So I'd say ATT wins.

Your $110 total is incorrect. It's actually $150 because each phone is $40 on top of the $70 data charge (you mentioned you have two phones). So $70 + $80 = $150.

No, it's not. You, as the primary account holder, pick your plan, which is unlimited text/talk + whatever amount of data you want. So in my case I'd pick the 4GB. That'd cost me, by myself, $70. Then to add another smartphone to SHARE that plan, it costs $40.
That's $110. I'm reading the table correctly. I've dealt with AT&T and their confusing plans for over a decade, I know what I'm talking about. 

Yes it would be $110 with just your phone. Adding the iPhone would be another $40. Remember the $70 is a base rate before the phones are added. It does not include any phones.
go to http://att.com/mobileshare and scroll to the bottom, there is an example of a 6gb share plan with 2 phones and a tablet for a total of 90 (plan) + 35 (phone 1) + 35 (phone 2) + 10 (tablet) = $170
"For example, a family with two smartphones can
add one tablet to share 6GB of data, plus unlimited talk and text."

I would contact Premier if I were you, but Premier discounts are normally percentage discounts off whatever plan you have. Hopefully that will continue to be the case.

For a plan with only 2 phones this doesn't help a bit! This helps me in no way whatsoever. What a joke!!

Just remember that no one is forcing you to buy a smartphone and the data plans that you have to go along with them.
You are making a choice to get a smartphone.
If I  put 1 lb of sand in a ziplock bag and said it will cost you $20 for this Egyptian Sand and you hand me a $20, that is your problem..
Go back to the flip phones...

Remember too, if you already have a plan on AT&T, you don't have to take these new plans. #stopthebutthurt

Unfortunately there is a serious dearth of non-smartphone devices these days. I counted 8 devices on AT&T that didn't require a data plan. There were 37 devices that did. The remaining 6 devices were either out of stock or weren't phones.

And that's why the discovery of persistent WiFi for WP8 is so important. Connected to my local Publix supermarket WiFi this past weekend. Time to press for every retailer and venue to provide it. Using 250MB of my Unlimited AT&T plan, thanks to WiFi.
Carriers will do everything they can; new apps, added services, new networks, to get you to consume more data, and then they whack you when you do. No better than a drug dealer. Damn the carriers.

US carriers need to stop baking in phone subsidies into plans. Both at&t and verizons plans are so expensive because they subsidize each phone up to 400 dollars every 18 months which makes for a huge mark-up per added device. And they dont even have an option for lower prices per device on unsubsidized devices. Its ridiculous.

I don't have a problem paying $500+ for a phone, but most Americans don't understand what the real cost of a device is. When I tell someone what the price for a phone is, they look at me like I just told them their baby died.

So many people complaining, just do the math and if it's not worth it move on, no need to whine about it since its not mandatory. For some it may be a benefit so why the moaning if it isn't for you specifically? Babies.

That's the problem it won't save anyone any money (based of the math people are giving)?This is what they call a price increase. While not mandatory it does seem worthless with the new shared plans. No babies just concerned consumers :).

Not mandatory yet, but given that their has been talk of discontinuing unlimited data plans for those grandfathered in I'm not to happy about this idea.  Why is it that AT&T can offer 3 gigs for $30 for nonshared data, but it is $45 for 1 gig if it is shared?  The numbers don't add up to anything that seems reasonable, and more than likely these new plans are going to be the norm rather than the exception.

"Not mandatory yet...more than likely these new plans are going to be the norm rather than the exception."
That, my friend, could very well happen. The carriers aren't stupid. They know how to steer people into paying more. After all, that's how you keep a business afloat, right?

It's coming to the point that I don't want a smart phone anymore.  I currently pay about $110/month that includes taxes for the minimum 550 minutes AT&T would let me have, unlimited data on my Focus, and my wife's dumbphone.  With this plan, it would be $40 for voice and text, 45 for a gig of data on my smartphone, and $30 for my wife's dumbphone if I am understanding the table.  That adds up to $125, $15 more than now, for the 100 minute and 5 texts s a month that I sometimes use, and then I still only get a gig of data when I am usually 100mb or so over that each month.  The $125 doesn't include taxes, and I could hop on over to Verizon and get 2 gigs for an extra $5 a month on the share everything plan. Complete BS!

It's funny how we've all been steered into thinking we "need" a smartphone, don't you think? Before, smartphone were tools for business. Now, with the iPhone and social networking, a lot of us are hooked into "needing" a smartphone. Granted, at one point I was house hunting so I needed my smartphone to exchange emails with realtors, etc. It was definitely useful for that, but most of the time my smartphone is used on WiFi.
I remember when it was all about voice minutes, then rollover voice minutes, followed by unlimited voice minutes. Then came texting, then shared/unlimited texting. Carriers catch on that people are texting more, so they tweak the plans making voice minutes seem like a deal but you are still paying the same bill or more. Finally now here comes data and now they show you how you are getting a great deal on voice/text/data but in reality you are paying the same or more. Unless you've been grandfathered, you're paying more. At one point people WILL lose their grandfather status one way or the other (e.g. switching carriers, etc).
It's capitalism at its best. All we can do is get the best deal for what we really need and move on.

Life would definitely be simpler with a smart phone, but then I would just be expected to be in my cube to answer questions more often or to answer mail when I'm at home :(

If I can use my corporate discount (20%) I may switch. It would be similar in cost with unlimited texts and minutes (I currently have a block on texts) and the 700 minutes or so family share plan.

Oh we can actually block texts? Not that I would but that's cool if you can avoid all text if you don't really want them.

Yeah, you have to call up customer service and ask for a text block I believe. I just didn't want to pay $30 for the shared family txt plan since its mostly just my wife and I texting each other. We normally use kik for that.
But blocking texts also causes the find my phone service to not work.

Yup AT&T sucks. Sorry for people who left other providers just to get a nokia lunnia phone. Enjoying the all you can eat unlimited data no sharing needed at all from sprint. Yes sprint will be having new wp8 in October and will offer free 7.8 upgrade has well so dont say you doubt it coming which it is. Don't say it daniel gaybino lol...

LOL nice. Well in my case my wife would laugh because when she "pays her own bill" it would still come out of my pocket, hahaha!

You know how you can save MORE money?  Disown your kids and divorce your wife and move to Africa.   Seriously...what is "make your wife pay her own bills"???

Too expensive, just like Verizon's shared data plans.

Here is the breakdown:

Current: $165 for three smartphones, unlimited text, more minutes than I know what to do with including unlimited mobile to mobile, and 2.4GB of data

Now it would be $175 for three smart phones, unlimited text, unlimited calls, and 1GB of data.

Or it would be $190 for three smart phones, unlimited text, unlimited calls, and 4GB of data.

Straight Talk 3 smart phnes unlimited everything including data, $135, and still on the same AT&

Unless you are using non-phone devices this almost never looks better. 
Let's say you have 4 smartphones sharing 700 min/mo and 300 MB of data:
minutes: $69
additional lines: $30
data: $80
family messaging: $30
Total $209 w/1.2 GB of data
Same thing but with the 3 GB plans
minutes: $69
additional lines: $30
data: $120
family messaging: $30
Total: $249
New plan:
base 1 GB: $40
lines: $180
Total: $220 for less data but, hey, unlimited minutes
base 10 GB: $120
lines: $120
Total: $240 so you save $10 but get two gigs less data and unlimited minutes
700 voice minutes seems to be around the break-even point. If you use more minutes than that then you might possibly come out ahead, assuming you have the family texting and data plans on all your lines.

This is crazy! Way too over priced! Is there a way to get a data plan made for a tablet and just put that sim into your phone? Or do you have to buy the tablet too?

I 2nd that.
Their $20 / month data plan may cap you at 2GB, but at least there are no overages to worry about.

It caps you at 20$ for the 4G speed, right? after the 2GB it just switched to 2G. that's what their pre-paid was like (I haven't been on a contract for since I had an iphone 3G)

Yes, thats right.. the data is tecnhically "unlimited"  you just get 2GB over 4G, and the rest over EDGE each month.
2GB seems just about right for my normal usage, though.

Forget AT&T, just go with MVNO that runs on AT&T or tmobile.
Pay less, no contract and you get the same service. plus, you can switch to another carrier at any time if they change their deals.

$100 for two phones $30 bucks for each data plus 500 minutes I refused text messaging..i told my friends to email me if u want to talk to me... Kim,Skype Facebook chat and its all free.. People dumb enough to pay $30 for unlimited texting.. Im not falling for that

I love how AT&T adds features that very few use and then try to spin it as the best thing ever. For me unlimited talk and texts is as useful as an unlimited amount of free manure.

Its not AT&Ts job to save you money. If you don't see the value, go somewhere else. I'm so sick of people constantly bitching about price plans, blah blah blah. Switch to Sprint or T Mobile if it's too expensive.

They're businesses. Their sole purpose is to make a profit.