AT&T (NYSE:T) has unveiled its new wireless data plan that allows customers to share data among multiple users and devices, but will not force adoption on users. The announcement comes about a month after rival Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) launched a similar plan that diminishes the role of voice minutes and texts. The two carriers’ plans instead encourage increased data use by making it easier to add devices like tablets.
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AT&T’s plans will be available in late August. The company said it would not require new customers to adopt the “Mobile Share” plan. In addition, all current customers can keep their existing phone plans and still upgrade their devices with a subsidized price, even if they still have unlimited data. In contrast, new Verizon subscribers are required to sign up for a shared data plan, while current customers are only allowed to keep their unlimited data plans if they buy an unsubsidized phone.
However, AT&T’s new plan comes with a potential four-fold increase in fees for data services. For example, it will charge $40 for 1 gigabyte of data per month, compared with its current rate of $30 for 3 gigabytes.
Just as Verizon did, though, AT&T will provide unlimited voice and messaging services with its shared data plans. It will also offer a block of data for a flat cost, plus a fee for each device using that bucket of data. AT&T’s fees for adding other devices are $30 for basic phones, $20 for laptops, and $10 for tablets. Up to 10 devices can be added on one plan.
Sprint (NYSE:S) dos not have a shared plan, but still offers unlimited data. T-Mobile has an unlimited data plan but throttles users at certain limits.
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