First it was Verizon and now AT&T has followed suit in offering “shared data” plans to their customers. Shared data plans are a new type of service plan that combines data usage across all of a customer’s devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and mobile hot spots. If you are familiar with the idea of family plans that allowed your family to share your minutes across all your cell phones, shared data plans are a very similar concept.
I’ve researched both Verizon’s and AT&T’s shared data plans and here are the common features:
- Unlimited talk minutes
- Unlimited texts
- Free Mobile Hotspot usage for capable smartphones
- A pool of data that is shared among all the devices subscribed
Verizon calls their plan the “Share Everything Plan.” AT&T calls theirs the “Mobile Share” plan. With either company’s plan, you no longer need to worry about talking or texting. You only need to watch data usage. In essence, both companies are realizing that talk and text have become commodities and data usage is what is driving the industry now. With an increasingly mobile society, people are steadily increasing their consumption of data and are using a variety of devices to do so. By consolidating data usage, the carriers are potentially simplifying billing for their customers. Additionally, some customers may also save some money with the new shared data plans.
Every customer must review their data usage to determine if a shared plan will actually save them money. My wife and I reviewed our plan and discovered that between our two iPhones and one iPad, we were paying $205/month prior to taxes and other fees. Our combined data usage was only about 1 GB per month at the highest. By switching to AT&T’s Mobile Shared Plan with 4GB of data, we actually ended up saving $45/month.
The key to our savings was that we were able to choose one of the lower data usage plans. This is because my wife and I extensively make use of Wi-Fi connections whenever possible. Data used over Wi-Fi does not count against a the shared total because it is not traveling over the wireless carrier’s network. So if you aren’t already, make sure your smartphones are set to use Wi-Fi at home, at your workplace, at your friends and families’ houses, and any public Wi-Fi areas you frequent. Then take a look at these new shared data plans and see if you can save yourself some money.