AT&T Launches New Shared Plan Claiming Savings, But Does It Deliver?

 
on December 05 2013 3:53 PM
AT&T
AT&T Reuters

Price savvy mobile phone users have had to constantly scour carrier websites for the best plan, comparing and contrasting usage and price. However, AT&T wants to put that practice to bed. This Sunday AT&T will launch new data plans that include no contract options and may potentially lower monthly payments.

AT&T Mobile Share Value Plan will be available for current and prospective customers starting Dec. 8, but is it advantageous if you are currently an AT&T customer and not under contract?

The average two-person recommended data plan includes 4GB of data shared between the lines. Currently, the monthly cost for that plan (not including taxes and fees as those vary by location) is $150 for both lines, unlimited talk and text included. On AT&T’s new value share plan the monthly cost is $120, purportedly saving $15 per line for the same thing. 

For new customers, the new plan and AT&T’s Next program seems like the best option for AT&T service. The Next program allows buyers to pay for their device as a monthly fee over the course of 20 months, just under the standard 2-year contract term. So instead of paying $199.99 upfront for a new 16GB iPhone 5s, customers pay $0 down and have a $27 fee attached to their bill. Pretty simple.

However, running the math over the course of the full 24-month term, with the Next program and the new Mobile Value Share Plan 4GB with 2 iPhones, the average monthly cost breaks down to $165. Compare that price to the same plan with subsidized iPhones ($199.99), the average monthly price is $166.67. Basically, the plans work out equally. 

The savings only shows up when you purchase or own your own devices already, thus eliminating the monthly cost of the phone per line. If a new customer spends $200 each on two devices, for example the Moto G available on Amazon, said customer will see the $15 savings per month on average over a 2-year time.  Their mean bill will be $136.67, which includes the purchase price of the phones.  However, if the same customer only wants iPhones, the MSRP causes the mean monthly bill to be $174, actually costing $10 more per month.

The main benefit of this plan is the no-contract option. Whether or not you see savings over time, not having a contract makes this option very attractive to some. And more options for consumers is always better then fewer. 

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