How do AT&T’s new rates stack up against the competition?

How do AT&T’s new rates stack up against the competition?
AT&T announced on Thursday a new segment to its rate plan structure which arguably vindicates the position that T-Mobile has been touting since it first introduced contract-free rate plans a few years ago.

Love them or hate them, the data sharing rate plans are here to stay, particularly for AT&T and Verizon, whose larger networks enable them to push that value proposition versus “unlimited” data plans that T-Mobile and Sprint offer.

Instead of going through every single data tier between Verizon and AT&T, we put together a few different scenarios based on the number of devices that might be involved, and the amount of data that is purchased.

Since T-Mobile has only three flavors of data, 500MB, 2.5GB and unlimited, and Sprint pretty much only has an “unlimited” data option, we will highlight the other differences in the plans. If you are shopping carriers, you will definitely want to keep all the factors in mind, but if spending less money is your absolute priority, then these comparisons may reveal some unexpected angles for you.

Here are the scenarios we picked for comparison:

  1. Two smartphones sharing 4GB of data
  2. Two smartphones and one tablet sharing 6GB of data
  3. Four smartphones sharing 10GB of data
  4. Five smartphones sharing 15GB of data
  5. Five smartphones and two tablets sharing 20GB of data

Since this is comparing AT&T’s new rates, we will be examine the new tiers of a no-contract smartphone (or AT&T Next). We will not include the cost of the device or insurance (as might apply to AT&T Next, VZW Edge, T-Mobile Jump! or Sprint One Up) in the monthly comparison.

We are also not going to include activation fees since there are variables where they may or may not apply. For example, lines activated on AT&T Next do not incur an activation fee, but a customer provided device, activating a new line of service would ($36).

T-Mobile does not have a “share” plan, per se. In that instance, the smartphones will each have the 2.5GB data option, the tablet will have the 500MB option for scenarios 1, 2, and 3. For the fourth scenario, we selected the unlimited option for the T-Mobile lines. The final scenario will be calculated as if T-Mobile accommodated plans in excess of 5 total lines on the account, though even if you had two accounts (one with 5 lines and one with 2), we see no reason why the numbers would not line up.

For Sprint, unless otherwise noted, the data option at a minimum per line will be “unlimited” data. For tablets, in each instance, we chose the current promo of 2GB for $15 as the lower tiered options would not be comparable to the other three carriers.

You may be thinking that this is going to be a predictable result, T-Mobile is the cheapest while AT&T and Verizon are the most expensive.  We suspect that the numbers will surprise you, and seeing the numbers side-by-side will drive home the cost considerations you may have if you decide to shop around.

Turn the page and take a look at how things stack up.



58. dbradyf

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 13, 2013

ATTENTION! Very Important. The data for AT&T's Mobile Value plan is GROSSLY INACCURATE. The line access fees are $40 per month per smartphone. The $25/mo which has been reported in this article is for CONTRACT-FREE lines only. Go to AT&T's website and click Shop, Wireless, Mobile Share Plans for official pricing structures. This article is misleading!! The author of this article obviously did inadequate research before publishing this article.

57. RGreen

Posts: 84; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Just swithed one month ago.Unlimited data vs 4GB on a single device tmo/sprint LTE services sucks data never reached over 5GB for any given month. If tmo/sprint LTE services gets better than it would be worth it. At the end of the day it depends on the individual. At work I'm on work place network, At home I use FIOS WIFI and refuse to give verizon another f%!# cent. AT&T devices are boss. Just finished updating to Android 4.4 KitKat on both Nexus and Galaxy you got to love it... AT&T

50. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

I'll stick with my current plan and stay away from these Mobile Share plans.

55. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Yeah, it does seem like they are crap. Why should you have to pay a 25, or even worse 40, dollar charge just to put the device on the account. It seems like it is bordering on being cheaper just to have a bunch of standalone plans. If I get forced off my UL plan through VZW I'll switch to Tmo. If Tmo doesn't work, I'll go back to a dumbphone. 300+ a month for 16 GB of data is just atrocious.

56. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

I agree

47. diyi75

Posts: 73; Member since: Oct 30, 2013

There is no free roaming agreement between art and T-Mobile anymore.

12. jbro1914

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 06, 2013

Something doesn't add up. Did my own comparison since I don't need 2 lines. I priced a new line with an iphone 5s, unlimited talk and text and the cheapest device protection available: VZW - 199.99 for the phone + 118.18/month (4GB data) ATT - 199.99 for the phone + 118.98/month (4GB data) TMO - 59.99 for the phone and sim + 103.00/month (unlimited data) Sprint - 99.99 for the phone + 80.00/month (unlimited data) ATT's new plan pricing won't be reflected on their site until the 8th AFAIK. Still, everything I've read seems to say that there won't be any diff for single line customers like myself.

21. Maxwell.R

Posts: 218; Member since: Sep 20, 2012

You also did not read what we compared. We did not compare equipment options and did not account for fees which are variable across the carriers. You compared AT&T's current plan structure, we compared the upcoming Mobile Share Value plans. If you bring your own phone, AT&T for one device, 4GB would be $95 per month (not including taxes, etc).

11. Sprissy

Posts: 193; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

I actually read this on another site, the $25 monthly access fee is for those who have a no contract phone, if you are under a 2 year contract the monthly access fee is $40. I do like the idea that if you have a phone that is no longer under contract or choose to purchase a phone outright that you are going to get a discounted monthly access fee. VERIZON, should take notice to that and follow ATT's lead.

9. JGuinan007

Posts: 699; Member since: May 19, 2011

T-mo service is pretty bad around me or it was a few years ago ATT service along the north east coast area has been great for me and with these new plans its even better.

14. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

T-Mo service is pretty bad almost everywhere. There is a reason I pay AT&T's higher price.

19. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

36. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

I was referring to their network coverage area... not the speed.

30. g2a5b0e unregistered

I'm assuming you've been "almost everywhere" to test this, right? T-Mobile works perfectly fine in my area & tons of places I know. The fact that it doesn't work well in your area doesn't mean it's bad "almost everywhere".

35. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

Based on my own experience, and the experience of others that I talk to on a daily basis, it is. I traveled alot when I was a T-Mo customer actually, and their network was terrible. I speak to T-Mo customers on a daily basis who are switching because the service doesn't work for them. Alot of them are truck drivers who drive across the country every week and are tired of their phones not working. T-Mo does, however, work fantastic in the larger cities. That doesn't help people who live in rural areas, which are usually covered by AT&T, Verizon, or both. That being said, T-Mo isn't the worst of the big four. That title belongs to Sprint.

37. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

This makes no sense for wherever there's AT&T's but not T-mobile's signal, thanks to the mutual free roaming agreement between both carriers, a T-mobile customer will benefit from AT&T's coverage where the other is missing.

39. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012


41. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

You would think that is the case, but it isn't always. In my area there are multiple areas where only AT&T works really well, and T-Mo not at all. The same goes for Sprint. The only companies that seem to work well together around here are AT&T and VZ... albeit not perfectly.

42. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

It seems that it depends on the T-mobile plan one has. If it's any of the unlimited talk plans, then it gets priority roaming. If it's any of the pre-paid plans, not.

45. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

Pre-paid never gets roaming, regardless of the carrier.

46. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Could this be the case then?

48. Jommick

Posts: 221; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

I take it you're on the west coast then? I live up in ye olde hills of Reno and the only two carriers that are any good here are AT&T and VZW - while T-Mobile is making a good, honest effort here, everyone I've talked to in/around the area says the only reason to go with them is because they're cheap, not because of their service. If their service improved where I live (which I would love to see happen), I'd gladly choose T-mo because their plans are impossible to beat, but for now it's AT&T for me because they actually work where I live and travel to often (Lake Tahoe, Middle of nowhere CA, etc.)

49. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

No, I live in a Gulf state. But, in my travels throughout the country, primarily to bigger cities, but also small ones, never have I experienced not being able to get a T-mobile signal. It's anecdotal information, for sure, but, given the blanket statements about its coverage, which is indeed not as good as of the other three larger carriers, I wonder how much roaming in AT&T's network is part of my experience and, if so, why it isn't for others.

51. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

Actually I'm in the midwest. Missouri/Kansas region. I have family on the east coast that have the same issues as well. This happens all over the place.

52. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

I should add that my experience is not free of issues either. At home, I get no bars downstairs and only one upstairs. When my phone had T-mobile's WiFi Calling, which my new Nexus 5 lacks, it would be active all the time at home. Yet, I don't go saying that T-mobile's coverage is horrible everywhere, for no carrier is without sin... err... dead spots.

7. jamesedward318 unregistered

I made the leap to T-Mobile here a while back and I love their service. I most definitely love their prices. T-mobile gets reception just about any and every where I go. I got tired of my pockets being raped for data overages.

18. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I have full bars of LTE all over Chicago. Great isn't it?

4. daveydog

Posts: 69; Member since: Sep 01, 2013

Does att really charge for gps use (for navigation)? The rep said it would cost 10/m to use it... I don't mean att nav, I mean google nav, etc. Also do they have other extra fees, like for detailed billing? $4-5/m? If that is true, it negates the good news for me personally....

13. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

They only charge for AT&T Navigator. If the rep told you otherwise, he is full of s***. You should use the default mapping solution on your phone and save yourself the money, unless you have an iPhone. Then you should download Google Maps or Here Maps.

44. daveydog

Posts: 69; Member since: Sep 01, 2013

Thanks for the confirmation.... I knew that couldn't be right

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