By: Gigaom
AT&T’s new sharing plans optional, undercut Verizon on price
AT&T revealed the shared data plans it’s been hinting at for so long. The new pricing structure looks very similar to the shared tiers Verizon announced last month with two key differences: AT&T’s plans are optional for new and existing customers, and they’re slightly cheaper.

AT&T revealed the shared data plans it’s been hinting at for so long. The new pricing structure looks very similar to the shared tiers Verizon announced last month, charging a per-line rate for each device, bundling in unlimited voice and SMS and offering a flat fee for buckets of common data. There are two key differences though: AT&T’s plans are optional for new and existing customers, and they’re slightly cheaper.

Verizon’s structure is pretty simple. Pay a per-device monthly fee ranging from $10 for a tablet to $40 for a smartphone and then buy a bucket of data starting at $50 for 1 GB and going up to $100 for 10 GB. AT&T, however, is using a sliding scale to determine the amount your charged for each smartphone. For instance a family buying a 1 GB plan would pay $45 per smartphone connected, while the same family would pay only $40 per phone if they signed up for a 4 GB plan.

In general, the prices AT&T charges for the actual data buckets start off cheaper than Verizon’s equivalents, but as you get into the upper tiers, Verizon starts offering better volume discounts. For instance at 6 GB, Verizon charges $80 while AT&T charges $90. But at that tier AT&T is charging a $35 per-device fee. So four smartphones sharing 6 GB plans costs roughly $230 a month, while the same setup on Verizon costs $240. If you move down to two smartphones sharing 6 GB though, both carriers’ prices wind up being the same, $160.

Both carriers are charging the same rates for connecting non-smartphone devices and customer overages are being billed at the same rate: $15 per gigabyte. The new Mobile Share plans will be available in late August.

The biggest shocker is that AT&T is making these plans strictly optional – and not just for existing customers. New customers can still sign up for the revised individual data plans AT&T implemented in January – which in the case of individual customers could wind up being the cheaper option by far. And don’t worry, unlimited customers, your plans remained grandfathered.

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