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

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AT&T has disclosed that one of its employees illegally accessed customers' personal information in August 2014.

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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