AT&T may gain edge on Verizon with new price plan

Consumers, though, will probably end up paying more either way.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 18, 2012 12:30PM
Image: Businesswoman on cellphone (© Corbis)Verizon Wireless (VZ) may have introduced its new pricing plan first, but rival AT&T's (T) offering, which was unveiled Wednesday, may be slightly better for consumers who don't use much data, according to Consumer Reports.

AT&T customers aren't required to adopt its new Mobile Share pricing structure, while most Verizon customers will have to adopt its Share Everything plan, introduced in June.

This flexibility may benefit AT&T, which has battled customer perceptions that its service is inferior, even though some experts argue that it's better than it used to be.

Smartphone and data users would pay $85 a month under AT&T's shared-data plan, which can cover as many as 10 devices. Verizon's plan enables family members to share a set amount of data for a flat monthly fee. Consumers may end up paying more under either plan than they do currently.

"If you have the option of keeping your old AT&T plan, keep it, especially if you are a light to moderate data user," said Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports. The costs of the two plans are otherwise comparable, he adds, with Verizon's being slightly cheaper for heavy data users.

As Reuters notes, AT&T's data price under the new plan will be $40 for 1 gigabyte of data per month, as much as four times its current fee of $30 for 3 gigabytes. The more data a customer uses, the better deal he will get. Customers can choose to participate in Mobile Share without a contract extension and can upgrade to new devices without switching plans.

Independent telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan tells MSN Money that AT&T's plan, which will be available next month, "will be a winner right away" because it offers more flexibility to customers, though he also expects Verizon's offering to do well. Other carriers, such as Sprint Nextel (S) and T-Mobile, are expected to introduce similar offerings.

"It's going to be a competitive necessity," Kagan said, adding that consumers want simplicity. "They are going to want one account not five accounts."

Telecommunications companies are trying to squeeze more profits from their data businesses as fewer customers, especially younger ones, use fewer voice services. This insatiable demand for data is expected to lead to a capacity crunch, forcing carriers to lower connection speeds for users they consider to be data hogs. Indeed, speculation is mounting that AT&T, the second-largest wireless carrier, will levy additional fees on users of Apple's popular but data-intensive video chat service FaceTime.  

In the end, the real losers in this technology arms race are the people who just want to make phone calls.
"Carriers don't want plain old phone users," Gikas said. "They can't make any money off them."
Tags: STVZ
Jul 18, 2012 3:29PM
Jul 18, 2012 7:02PM

thank god somebody finally came in and put some pressure on verizon.  verizon is by far the worst provider I have ever been stuck with they have high pressure con artist sales people who will do anything to get you locked into a contract and once your in, all of the helpful service disappears.  Dont expect any type of reimbursement or even fake sympathy when you complain that their coverage is bogus, your calls get dropped and your texts dont go through.  All they will tell you is "coverage not garunteed in all areas" and expect to pay nearly $500 if you try to opt out after becoming fed up with terrible coverage and service. 


I miss alltel.  You could change your plan any time without signing a new contract.  Once your contract expired you could stay on their coverage month to month, eliminating the 1 or 2 year contract requirement entirely.  The customer service was simple and reliable (albiet, a bit slow during peak hours).


GO AT&T, I hope you wipe verizon off the map and de-monopolize that POS scumbag corporation. Use this key moment to re-introduce some human interaction and customer service back into the cell phone service industry!!!

Jul 18, 2012 7:28PM
Oh gee  - wireless phone companies don't want "plain old phone users"  What a concept
Jul 18, 2012 7:03PM

AT&T wins for me because they have a selection Windows Phones.

Verizon has one Windows phone that is almost 18 months old, and no plans/announcement about future offerings.


I don't like Android, and I don't think iPhone is worth the extra $300 for the Apple name.  Loving my Lumia 900 that I got for $99.

Jul 18, 2012 7:41PM
you know at&t is bad. i have had only bad dealing with at&t. verizon is a little better. however, not wonderful.  if i had to choose what company to have wireless with it would have to be verizon. i currently have verizon. where i live very few wireless phones work. at&t DOES NOT work in our area. verizon works most times.
Jul 19, 2012 11:34AM
This article is so screwed up, If you do the math Verizon is the same or cheaper than ATT depending on what data option you choose. Plus only NEW customers going to Verizon network have to go with that plan current customers can keep their plans they are not forced to switch. This is the same with ATT who new customers only have these plans to choose from yet current customers keep their same plans.

The author needs to learn to do his homework more before he puts out a messed up article that is not true.
Jul 18, 2012 5:15PM
AT&T is the best cell service I ever had and it keeps getting better.
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