Last month, Verizon introduced shared data plans, which at first sounded like a possible money saver for its customers. Unfortunately, our research revealed just the opposite: most customers will pay more on the new plans. Now AT&T has announced something similar. Are AT&T's Mobile Share plans a better deal?
The short answer: not so much. As it turns out, neither carrier offers a better plan than the other. It really depends how many devices you have and how much data you use each month. The plans from AT&T and Verizon work in the same way: you choose how much data you want and then add your devices to the plan. Each device you add ups the cost per month. In many cases, you'll pay more for these plans than you do for your current cell phone plan, especially if you still have unlimited data. This means, for many customers, there's just not any benefit to switching over to these shared plans. What I'd like to see is some incentive. What if the first smartphone on the plan is free? Or what about an overall discount if I add, say, three or more devices to a plan? Right now it feels like the carriers are steering consumers toward these plans whether they like it or not.
Let's take an example. Say a customer with two smartphones and a tablet wants to sign up for a data share plan. Here's how AT&T and Verizon stack up: