(By Mani) AT&T, Inc. (NYSE:T) unveiled the details of its mobile share data plans, which will be available in late August. The features and price points were closely mirroring Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) recently introduced shared data plans.
As with Verizon, new and existing customers can share a single bucket of data across smartphones, tablets, and other compatible devices, helping customers manage their data, voice minutes and texting, without needing to keep track of multiple plans.
With AT&T Mobile Share plans, customers can choose up to 10 devices to attach to their shared plan, one of which must be a smartphone. Each plan includes tethering and unlimited domestic calls and texts for smartphones and basic or quick messaging phones. The larger the data bucket you choose, the less you pay per gigabyte and the less you pay for each smartphone added to the shared plan.
AT&T's plan includes:
* Unlimited talk and messaging services with all shared plans.
* Share data plans begin at $40/1 GB and increase to $200/20 GB, with overage priced at $15/1 GB.
* The plan requires at least one smartphone on the account.
* Monthly smartphone costs decrease for higher-tier data plans e.g., $45/month for 1 GB, dropping toward $30/month for higher-usage commitments.
* Basic phones, laptop/netbook/USB and tablet monthly costs are $30, $20 and $10, respectively.
"As with Verizon, we feel potential near-term ARPU pressure risk exists for AT&T from multi-smartphone/tablet households tiering down, but we believe the share data plans should prolong postpaid subscriber growth as they lower the barriers to smartphone and tablet adoption on contract plans, and should lower postpaid churn," RBC Capital Markets analyst Jonathan Atkin wrote in a note to clients.
Let's see how the AT&T shared plans compare with Verizon's. Generally, the calling plan prices for individual and family plans in multiple scenarios to be fairly close to one another. Under most scenarios, the variance between the two carriers ranges from $5-$20 a month.
Following are some of the differences between AT&T and Verizon:
* AT&T's smartphone cost decreases with higher tier data plans while Verizon's monthly smartphone cost is constant
* Verizon's data plans increases in increments of $10 for 2 GB versus AT&T's larger incremental increase
* Verizon appears to be cheaper for customers taking 10 GB of higher due to lower overage fees of $10/2 GB for Verizon.
* AT&T will allow existing customers to keep unlimited data plans and still upgrade with subsidized prices.
* Unlike Verizon's fixed fee, AT&T's smartphone handset fees depend on the data deal chosen. For instance, smartphones range from $45 a month (on a 1GB deal) to $30 a month on AT&T and a fixed $40 a month on Verizon.
Shared data plans give customers more control over how, where and on what device they use data — which has become more important as people use more data devices. These data plans would benefit those who have more connected devices such as tablets to get maximum benefits of the plans.
Some customers have been demanding these plans as they end up exceeding their data limit on one device but were under it on another forcing them to pay more.
Whether these shared data plans from AT&T and Verizon work for you? Well, it all depends on your usage needs and data consumption. Yes, we again stress the word data consumption because all your plans are structured based on this term as the more data you consume more will be your monthly bills.
Both carriers charge $15 per additional 1GB usage. Though it may sound cheap at the outset, these may bring a fat bill at the end of the month if you were not mindful of your data consumption.
Another thing, these data plans may benefit if a customer has got more than one smartphone and tablets. If you own only a single smartphone and a tablet, then shared data plans could be a bit pricey.
Last but not the least, if you are an investor in AT&T or Verizon, you should be happier as these new data plans would actually beef up the revenues of these carriers by way of higher data fees. The results would be seen in their third quarter numbers.