Not too long after Verizon announced similar options for their customers, AT&T has followed suit with some options of their own. Shared data plans will now be available for the top two major carriers in the United States.

These new options will launch late August, and for some people, will offer the chance to significantly reduce the prices they pay for service. Currently, customers are able to purchase data plan for individual devices only, even if users are part of a family plan already. Individual users within the family plan have many different options, and can choose those options independently for their individual line. Things can get a bit confusing, and they are usually quite expensive.

With this new move by AT&T, plans for families (or “shared plans,” if you are sharing among friends and that makes you feel better) will become a bit simpler, and potentially a lot cheaper. This is especially true if you have a large group of people together. AT&T’s shared data options won’t even replace the existing packages that are currently available to consumers, so customers who already have a plan can stay on it, regardless of those who want to bundle together. The person would also be fully eligible for their upgrades on the normal schedule they had before.

The new plans that will be available for customers are as follows:

  • 1GB Package = $40/month plus $45 for each smart phone
  • 4GB Package = $70/month plus $40 for each smart phone
  • 6GB Package = $90/month plus $35 for each smart phone
  • 10GB Package = $120/month plus $30 for each smart phone
  • 15GB Package = $160/month plus $30 for each smart phone
  • 20GB Package = $200/month plus $30 for each smart phone

An additional $15 will be charged for each additional 1GB of data used per month. All plans include UNLIMITED Messaging and UNLIMITED Voice.

If you’re using basic or quick messaging phones, the data will be $30 per month. If you have laptops, LaptopConnect cards or netbooks to connect to it, those devices can also join in the fun for an additional $20 per month per device.

This will likely make many of your bills cost less, depending on your usage patterns and the amount of devices you have connected together. My plan, for example, costs roughly $270 per month for 5 devices. There is no messaging included, and only 1400 minutes shared between the five lines. On 4 of the 5 lines, we’re grandfathered into Unlimited Data Plans (which are no longer offered). The other user is almost always on WiFi, and is actually doing very well with the $15 200MB/ month data package. Total, my account nets a little under 6GB of data usage per month. I’m getting these terms for $270 per month (after all fees and taxes), because of a 15% corporate discount.

Given those figures, I would actually save about $40 per month with these new plans. The 6GB/month shared plan is priced at $90/month, plus I’ll have 4 additional smartphones added to the plan, for a total of $230 for everyone. On top of that, all users would have unlimited calling, unlimited messaging, and one of my lines would gain more freedom to use data. Of all the lines on my plan, only two of us regularly go over 2GB per month, so it’s doubtful we’ll have any data issues as far as the overage fees go.

That was under the assumption that the $90/month covers one device automatically. Let’s say for a moment that it doesn’t cover one device, and that I need to add an additional $35 for my line as well. The total comes to $265, which is still lower than the $270 i regularly pay after my discount. – The $265 plan would also be getting a 15% discount, so there’s still significant savings with the new pricing structure.

Does that mean I’ll be switching plans? Honestly there is just one thing stopping me: Losing Unlimited Data.

Even though the other plan is creating a cheaper alternative to our usage, we’ve got 4 lines grandfathered into a sweet deal that we can never get back again. However, my plan currently has no messaging added, and we’ve been dipping into our rollover minutes every month (still about 1200 left, but still). AT&T is also going to be activating FaceTime over cellular data for those who enroll in the mobile share plans, so this is another incentive as well. My account would likely see a bill decrease of nearly $35 per month by switching to the 1-GB plan for my five lines, from $270 on average after taxes to roughly $235 or so. Compound those savings with the additional features, and it’s an all around sweet deal I think.

I suppose it’s a difficult decision. What would you do? Will the plans save you money at all? Do these changes excite you at all? Leave us some feedback about your situation in the comments section below. The plans, which are listed from AT&T directly here, are going live August 24, 2012


HotTips! Readers: Get Great VPS Wordpress Hosting Cheap!

HotTips! Readers can enjoy great savings with a hosting package at Pryor Media! Your WordPress website will never be that slow-loading junk that you get with shared hosts! Learn what makes Pryor Media’s WordPress Hosting different from the rest, and use coupon code “HOTTIPS” to save 20% off of your hosting subscriptions!

Learn More Here