Shared data plans: Verizon vs. AT&T
The right plan for you depends on your monthly talk, text and data usage. Here's what to compare.
This guest post comes from Louis Ramirez at Dealnews.
Like it or not, shared data plans may be the future of the telecommunications industry. But are these plans real money-savers or will you end up paying more out-of-pocket each month? With AT&T as the latest mobile operator to jump on the shared data bandwagon -- Verizon launched its plan in June -- we decided to take a look at both plans to see which, if either, can save you money.
The basics of shared data
A shared data plan allows consumers to use data on multiple devices (smartphones, tablets, cellphones) from one data plan. So rather than having one data plan per family member, for example, you'll have a single, larger data pool from which the family's various devices can share.
Included in both AT&T's and Verizon's shared data plans are unlimited voice minutes and unlimited texting. In addition, both plans let you use your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot at no additional charge. However, for each carrier, there are various factors that can cause your monthly bill to rise quickly. (Post continues below.)
Verizon's Share Everything plan
Verizon's Share Everything plan charges a flat fee per device connected to a shared data plan. One smartphone, for instance, would tack on an additional $40 per month to your bill; a tablet would cost you $10 per month over the cost of your data share plan. After crunching some numbers, we found that with Verizon's shared data plan, it's less expensive to couple data usage between a smartphone and a tablet than it would be to operate them on two different data plans.
Looking at actual data costs, Verizon's shared data plan fees range from $50 for 2GB to $100 for 10GB. Should you need a plan with more data than Verizon currently offers, Verizon charges an additional $10 per 2GB. (So a 12GB-a-month plan would cost $110.) Seem hefty? Well, if you choose a plan and surpass your data capacity, Verizon will charge you $15 per 1GB of data.
Better to be safe than sorry, we think.
But the very best way to figure out if a data sharing plan will work for you is to carefully analyze your monthly usage, data and otherwise. The unlimited voice and texting that's bundled with Verizon's data plan is a huge perk and potential money-saver, especially if you use a lot of talk minutes per month.
AT&T's Mobile Share plan
With AT&T Mobile Share -- which officially becomes available in August -- the higher the data tier you select, the less you'll pay per month to have the required smartphone on your plan. For instance, a smartphone on a $40 1GB shared data plan will cost $45 per month, whereas a smartphone on a $200 20GB plan will cost just $30 per month. However, basic phones, laptop/netbooks and tablets pay a flat fee of $30, $20, and $10, respectively, per month, regardless of how much data you get.
If you go over your data plan, AT&T charges $15 per 1GB consumed. Again, consumers who can potentially save the most with AT&T's shared data plan are those who primarily rely heavily on voice minutes and texting.
Which plan is right for me?
Verizon's and AT&T's shared data plans may seem difficult to understand at first due to a number of variables and possible scenarios. That's why your best bet is to first look at your own monthly talk, text and data usage, and then determine if any plan could save you money. (Both Verizon and AT&T provide tools for tracking your monthly data usage online and via your phone.) In both cases, those who are best suited to save are customers who currently go over their monthly allotment of minutes and text messages.
Likewise, smartphone users who have recently purchased a tablet that they want to untether from Wi-Fi-only can also potentially save money with these new plans (as long as your data consumption is moderate). The same can be said of a family with multiple devices, although tracking usage across many devices is likely tricky.
As we stated, shared data plans are the wave of the future. And although T-Mobile has made it clear that it's against shared data plans, calling them "costly, complicated and punitive," mobile operators have a history of following what the industry leaders are doing.
More on Dealnews and MSN Money:
I really liked my smart phone and would love to have a tablet, but it's just too expensive. We just got rid of our smart phones and went back to the regular old cell phone to save money. I don't know how people do it. We aren't rich, but my husband has a decent job (soldier, E-7) and the phone plans put an added strain on already tight finances. I hope more and more people do the same and the phone companies realize that they need to lower the prices.
I have been with Verizon for 12 years and they are going to loose a customer when my contracts are up. I have 5 phones 2 smart 3 dumb and that is $200 a month if I switch to thier new plan it would be $300 They continue to jack fees and the service does not improve. I love having a smart phone, but it is not worth what all the companies are charging for data.
in my opinion both companies charge way too much. Verizon is doing away with unlimited data plans if you renew your contract and rumor is iphone5 is going to require unlimited data so vzw and att may not be able to sell it or you will have to go pay 5 or 600 bucks on the phone. Sprint looks like the real winner here
What the story is forgetting is that I have AT&T. My family unlimited messaging is a total of $30 per month. My data is $30 for 3GB. $20 for 300MB. So, having 3 smart phones at the 3GB each is not well defined. It is not, however $70 per phone. It would be $30 total for text and $90 total for data, fot a total of $120. The description suggests it would be $210.
I am sure Verizon is similar.
The shared data plan is going to save me 40 dollars a month so i'm all for it
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Sounds too good to be true . . . but by using these extreme tactics, it's possible to save big at the pump.