AT&T this morning followed its rival Verizon Wireless by announcing new shared data plans that move away from limits for individual phones and shift instead to a shared data pool that can be accessed by up to 10 devices.

One big difference from Verizon’s approach: AT&T is making its plans optional. New customers or those getting new phones aren’t required to use AT&T’s “Mobile Share” plans.

So should you make the switch? In short, get out your calculator. It depends on how much data you use, and how many devices are in your family. In some cases, the new plans are cheaper, in other cases they aren’t. The Associated Press has a good rundown exploring different scenarios on AT&T. Also see this AT&T infographic. Fierce Wireless compares the Verizon and AT&T plans.

In my case, for example, it looks like my family would save around $50 a month on our overall AT&T bill if we’re willing to give up our “unlimited” data plan and shift to the new Mobile Share plan. Suffice it to say this will be a topic of discussion around the dinner table tonight.

In addition to the cost of data, talking and texting, AT&T will charge a monthly fee per device: $20 for laptops and broadband sticks, $10 for tablets and gaming devices. The company is betting long term that people will add a wide variety of devices to their plans.

“Today we think of people’s smartphones and tablets sharing a bucket of data. But in the future we’ll see health care monitors, connected cars, security systems and other devices in the home all connected to the mobile Internet,” says AT&T exec David Christopher in a news release.

The new AT&T plans are set to launch in late August.

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  • Christopher Budd

    I tend to think that taking a broader view, switching is really kind of pointless.

    The wireless market in the US has clearly entered a state of being a mature oligopoly ( There’s no real competition and carriers’ behavior is collusive (by accident or design).

    A big problem with anti-trust in this country is that its focused on monopolies only, to the exclusion of oligopolies. And there’s a lot of those around these days (airlines, banks, cable/satellite, media, wireless and even tech increasingly).

    Part of the problem is the barrier to entry costs now are so high that no one can start a viable independent alternative. We see this here on Geekwire in the state of tech startups: they aim to be acquired by the big players rather than become a new big player.

    Where I would switch is to a new carrier that can meet my needs and have the potential to disrupt the market.

    But Verizon to AT&T: six of one, half dozen of the other.

  • Iuri G

    I dont think shared data saves money at all. It is a very well tailored lie by AT&T. For example Unlimited Talk & Text with 3 smartphones and 4GB shared data will cost 3×40+70=$190, while family plan with unlimited mobile calls (any carrier), unlimited text and 3GB data per phone (9GB total) will cost $50(family plan 550) + $30(shared unlimited mobile and text) + $20 ($10 line fee per additional line. 2 additional lines total.) + $90 (3GB for $30 per phone line) = $190. So it costs exactly same, but i get 5GB extra and my cost per additional GB is $10 and not $15 like it is in shared plan. So I think shared data plan is just a ripoff for most of the customers. Only time it would make sense is when you own two or more tablets, but in that case, 4GB data will not be enough for 3smartphones and 2 tablets and you will find yourself paying alot for extra data. Either way it is bad for customer.

  • philip navarro

    I am being forced to switch to a mobile share plan. Once I reach 5gb, I am throttled so badly my phone is useless for anything besides a phone.@att

    • meh

      I AGREE!!!!

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