As promised back in July, AT&T is launching its own shared data plans this month. On Monday the company confirmed an August 23 launch date, allowing families to get their smartphone and tablet use in order before students head back to school this fall.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for you to pick the plan that works best for you," said David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer, in a blog. "We’ve added a Mobile Share Planner tool at www.att.com/mobileshare. The tool is a simple way to estimate your current usage on each device. It automatically calculates your total estimated usage and recommends the right Mobile Share plan."
As reported earlier, shared data plans -- which include unlimited calls and texting -- range from 1 GB to 20 GB. The price for each smartphone depends on the data package: the 1 GB plan requires $45 for each added smartphone whereas the 20 GB plan requires $30 per smartphone. Otherwise, basic phones are an additional $30, laptops, LaptopConnect cards, and netbooks are $20 each per month, and tablets and gaming devices are $10 each per month.
"AT&T Mobile Share allows customers to essentially build a plan to fit their devices and usage. Customers who are more data-centric can choose a larger data bucket. Customers who typically use more voice than data can add multiple smartphones and basic phones and opt for a smaller data bucket," the company said in July.
AT&T said it will also help users track their data usage by keeping them informed with courtesy alerts as they near their monthly data allowance. Yet customers can also keep track of their data guzzling anytime online, through the myAT&T mobile app, or by dialing *DATA# from their phone.
Customers overwhelmed by the online tool can pick the right plan by contacting an AT&T representative at a local brick-and-mortar retail store (find one) or via the call center. "Individual plans, family plans, session-based plans or shared plans – our customers decide what’s best for them. Whatever your needs, we have a plan for you," Christopher added.
AT&T's move to push shared data plans follows Verizon's own just-launched assault to eliminate its old-school unlimited data plans. Verizon customers aren't forced to switch to shared data unless they plan to upgrade their phone. Customer support is also pushing the plans via phone, adding that the new data pool not only simplifies the bill, but eliminates the need to pay an additional monthly fee for tethering.