Verizon versus AT&T: who has the better shared data plans?

Verizon versus AT&T: who has the better shared data plans?
The two biggest carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, have now started offering shared data plans so you don’t have to pay a separate bill for every smartphone in the family. It’s more for the sake of convenience rather than savings, so don’t get your hopes too high.

The shared data plans on the two carriers are strikingly similar - both come with unlimited talk and text, and similar prices for the various data tiers. But while the pooled data plans on Verizon and AT&T are very, very similar, there are a couple of small nuances that over the long term will affect your bill by the hundreds, not the tens of dollars.

We’ve compared the prices between the two data plans, and if you pool up to three devices the difference never grows to over $10 a month between Verizon and AT&T. Those few dollars still add up over the long term so you'd better pick carefully. And what also changes your bill is the type of device you're using. The big fees are for smartphones, but if you go with a tablet, you'd pay a premium of $10, which is much more affordable.

Verizon offers the more tiers, so if you can be more precise with your data needs, Big Red offers this option for your savings, while AT&T jumps in bigger increments. Overage fees are set at $15 per GB on both carriers and both carriers include tethering for free, on even its basic plans.

Correction: We've incorrectly assumed that AT&T charges the same for all devices. The table below has now been fixed with the right numbers.

Check out the tables below and see which option applies to you, and what’s better to get in that case.



1. cies02

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 19, 2012

Sorry buddy but Verizon does offer 20gb of data usage.

3. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Yea....just keep adding 2GB for $10 to the 10GB plan til you get to 20GB. I heard you might can even go to 30GB.

2. hawk62

Posts: 320; Member since: Nov 21, 2009

No tethering on the lower att plans

9. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Both companies offer tethering on all shared data plans, even the 1GB.

4. mkl4466

Posts: 53; Member since: Sep 25, 2008

According to your sites article yesterday, att charges $30 for basic and quick messaging devices, $20 for laptop cards, and $10 for tablets on their new data share plans. Those are the same price as Verizon. The real differences between these two offerings are as follows: Verizon does not require a smart phone to utilize share everything. Verizon offers a base rate plan of $40 for 300 MBs, restricted to no more than one smart phone. Verizon charges $40 per smart phone, but att varies from $45 on low data plans, to 30 on high data plans. Verizon offers more tiers a which create more flexible options for customers. Att's high tier buckets are more expensive than Verizon's, but the lower per_device charge on att's plans can mitigate the difference, if you ad enough smart phones. The way understand it, Verizon does offer larger buckets than shown on their marketing material, ranging from 12 to 20 GBs, continuing the pricing rationale of $10 more for two more GB. So for the most part, barring a few specific instances of finding the sweet spot on att's plans, it looks to me like most customers would be saving money with Verizon compared to att..

5. Twashbush

Posts: 47; Member since: Jun 08, 2011

Both companies just need to stop being greedy and bring back unlimited data per device + your basic service. I am lucky to still have unlimited data on 4 of the 5 phones(all verizon 4g phones) on my plan. and i myself have used 8-12gb in a month quite a few times, while most of the others stay below 4gb. and the 1 phone on my account without unlimited is an avid netflix and youtube user and if slow at work can use his 4gb limit in a day. I understand that both companies are dishing out quite a bit of cash to rapidly push out their new 4g markets, but it likely cost them only pennies difference in weather you use 2gb or 10gb of data.

6. chack_fu

Posts: 46; Member since: Jan 19, 2009

Never gonna happen. It's time to start paying for what you are using. If you want the mobility of using 10 gb a month, pay for it. You are what's wrong with America, looking for something for nothing. The cell industry has changed. You drink more, you pay more. You drive more you pay more. You use more electricity you pay more. etc....

7. J-LoTheGreat

Posts: 32; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

Finally someone who understands. What people don't realize is that 4-5 years ago when Unlimited Data was the "thing" there was 4-5 smartphones and 15-20 basic feature phones. Times have changed people! This is the complete opposite now. You have millions more people using the data network and the companies cannot keep up with the usage. Sprint and T-Mobile don't have that problem bc of their lack of customers. If their customer base was that of ATT or Big Red, then you would see a cap on data as well. Stop crying people. Times change and this is just one of those things. Deal with it or move on!!!!

8. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

exactly! and eventually, Sprint will have to stop offering unlimited Data, once they work out the kinks in their new LTE 4G coverage, and more people jump to them BECAUSE they offer unlimited data....RIGHT NOW. this is just the way it is, so deal with it.

20. retrokick

Posts: 16; Member since: Jul 19, 2012

I agree that it shouldn't be unlimited, but I really do think AT&T and Verizon are price gouging their customers. They know that they have the two strongest networks and the power of very large corporations, and they use it to their advantage. They are raking in mass amounts of profits and in this economy, that is just ludicrous! They could discount their plans $10 monthly, change nothing else, and still make a LOAD of profits. They are just GREEDY.


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

You are entitled to your opinion but you are so misinformed. It's all about the might profit. They had a problem getting their stock over $40.00 a share, and tiered data is a way to pass profits on to the stock holder and create bonus for CEO's and the like. Misinformed fools like you that just accept any price thrown at you is just plain stupid. Sprint isn't offering tiered data, and the cost of laying LTE is costing them. Verizon and AT&T both want to make money off the user and are only driving you idiots to tiered data and making it seem like a good deal because when VOIP is implemented data usage will go through the roof and you will have to pay more on the tiered plans than you are paying now. Wake up you are sheep being herded to data usage slaughter in the future by 2014. AT&T even trying to get you to pay extra for face time even though it should be included in your data plan. This is just the beginning, because when people start using VOIP plans will get costlier, and they will have you by the balls. WAKE UP! I know most of you that are for this bull crap tiered data are millionaires any be it and have at it!

13. BLikens1619

Posts: 67; Member since: Apr 12, 2008

From what I also read is that you shouldn't ever upgrade again, Verizon has supposedly said to be getting rid of grandfathered unlimited plans. So when you go to upgrade you'll have to switch to a tiered plan. Guess you'll be looking for all the Wi-Fi hotspots around.

14. ballplyr14610

Posts: 8; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Its not that you shouldn't upgrade with Verizon, its just that you can't upgrade at subsidized pricing without losing unlimited data. If you want to keep unlimited data, you can still upgrade, but at full retail price.

15. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

I have to agree with your assessments on the Carriers is being greedy for the following reasons Anyone who is a carrier protector/investors can answer if they like with facts not opinion. 1. If data was a big issue ( wiping out their network) why keep pushing 4G phones LTE. 2.These Carriers never release the data ( to the public) to prove that how much smart phones is over working their network. 3.They claim the Iphone use more data (we all knew it was a lie), so every carrier increase the price. 4.The Boost,Cricket, MetroPC..they have smart phone their price DID NOT increase and they have unlimited data. 5.Yes, Verizon have more customers; but think about it, how many of their customers is on their network(NOT ROAM or Wi-Fi) at the same time?. Tell them to release the true number to the public about how this data is killing them, and stop pushing the the Data hog smart phones; just got an offer in the mail about getting two smart phones from this is a load of crap, they can offer unlimited data if they want , but like all business make as much money as possible off their customers!!

17. aninvisibleman

Posts: 5; Member since: May 18, 2012

1) Carriers are pushing smartphones because the associated data plans increase their bottom lines. All businesses want to make more money than they did the previous year. 2) Carriers are pushing 4G devices because their 3G networks are old and overburdened and they would prefer that customers use data on the 4G network. Also, for the most part customers are happier with 4G devices because of the increased speeds. Carriers like happier customers. 3) When has VZW, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile ever claimed that the iPhone uses more data than other smartphones. Most 3rd party studies that I have seen tend to claim that Android devices use more data than iPhones. 4) The smaller carriers that you mentioned have less customers, which means less data traffic. Also, they have slower speeds, so their customers cannot use as much data as a VZW or AT&T customer. Also, smaller carriers (even Sprint and T-Mobile) have to undercut VZW and AT&T in price or else they would not compete. Who would go to a smaller carrier with less coverage if they charged the same as the big guys? 5) Most of VZW's coverage is native coverage, not extended network. The largest area of VZW Extended network is currently Alaska, and there aren't too many customers there and they will be building out their network in AK in the coming months. I personally know people that use 20-30GBs (even up to 90GBs!!!) a month on their VZW 4G smartphones. I understand that this was advertised as unlimited, but this type of usage was never the intention. I always tell these people that they are the reason that unlimited has gone away. We are now in the post-unlimited data era people. Even both Sprint and T-Mobile will throttle their customers when they go over a certain threshold.

19. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

I agree wholeheartedly. I myself used approximately 10-12 GB, mostly on netflix. but remember, when unlimited data first came out, how many 4G smartphones were there for verizon? there HAS to be some limits for how much data a system can handle. I don't know all of the technobabble, but I know this: it's not infinite. 230 million customer on verizon using 10-12 GB a month can't be good, for ANY network. it doesn't make sense. I guess this question should be asked: how many of you would be willing to pay 50% more than what you pay now to upgrade the system in order for us to keep unlimited data? probably less than 10% would say they would. I know I wouldn't. use your WiFi at home, and limit your data usage away from home. spoiled, is what we are.


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Don't for a second believe they cant accomodate heavy usage. The same way they accomodate you on a land line can be achieved. They just want people to think like you do so they can make more profit to pass to the stock holder. I listened to the CEO of Verizon say just this to t investors during a conference call. Carriers like Verizon and AT&T want to create value for their stock which seem to peak at 40.00, and Verizon's CEO told investors that tiered data is the way to achieve this. Before anyone say no this isn't true go pull up the conference call on Yahoo if it is still posted. There was an article on this subject posted on Phone Arena a few months ago.

27. Zero0

Posts: 592; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

Wireless can't work the same as a landline. Wireless is far more limited. On a landline, more cable can be added. On wireless, the spectrum that you see is all that exists. We can not create more wavelengths of light. If it is a fiber network, it can become more efficient by improving technology at the center of the network. You can't arbitrarily upgrade wireless technology (e.g. shut down your 3G network to add 4G spectrum) to increase spectral efficiency. It just is not practical. Supposedly the spectrum crunch is avoidable, but it would require a complete overhaul of how wireless networks work.

29. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

Oh my, Verizon Network is so stress from all the data the customers are usage that they have been trying for over a year to resale some bandwidth to Metropc.

32. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Zero0, this explanation makes a lot of sense. why do you guys think Sprint is having such a hard time getting thier LTE up and running? I know a guy who has the new EVO 4G LTE, and supposedly it's here in KC. he lives right near a tower, and he hasn't had a speed test yet over 3 Mbps download.

31. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

between Yourself and Marty K, you guys seem to be the only one privy to "inside information". heard the CEO of verizon say this to his investors. Unless you are an engineer in the wireless technological arena, FOR Verizon, yours input here is just like everyone else's, an opinion. Get off your soapbox and use some common sense. the bottom line is this: they have a service we want, and they get to dictate how much they will charge for it. Knowing the "reason" they do it doesn't soften the fact that they are doing it. My common sense tells me that either we curtail our data usage, or they win by sucking money out our wallets. don't you think I LIKE having unlimited data? sure! however, no matter what I say, how much I gripe, how obstinate I get, they still get to call the shots, no matter what the reason. I firmly believe that Unlimited Data, used by 230 million customers (verizons customer base) at a clip of about 6-8 GB per month would crash the system, eventually. that's just my opinion, but i bet it's closer to the truth than not. Like I said in another post, how much extra would you be willing to pay for them to be able to offer 230 million customer unlimited data; because it's going to cost lots of greenbacks...


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

My input may be opinion to you but the fact the the CEO suggest tiered data as a way to enhance stock performance for profit says other wise, and Sprint is offering unlimited data suggest other wise. Phone Arena posted an article on this subject as has many other columns.When people like yourself starts accepting the bull s**t as truth we fail....look at politics as a perfect lesson and example. Greed is the only reason they are ending unlimited. We agree on the fact that giving them your money for it or not giving them your money is the only way to stop this from happening. The plan mark my words is to get you on tiered data sharing and when VOIP is implemented they will have you by the balls by charging overage in data due to usage from VOIP. You don't seem to realize that profits drive this machine now not service. Why do you think they are trying to eliminate base phones for smart phones......"profit"!

37. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Qwikstrike: increase stock performanace or not, THEY OWN THE SERVICE. THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT. no matter WHY they are doing it. I don't give a rats arse why they are doing it. if thats the reason YOU believe they are doing it, fine. does that make you feel better? the facts are stated above. they have something we want, so we need to decide if we want to pay for it. plain and simple. my contention with your view is that they CAN still offer unlimited, but they are just greedy. that's very possible, but why should they? like Marty K and several others keep saying, its about making a profit, as much as they can. my opinion is, that the in the technology can't handle what 230 million customers could do with it. do I have data to prove this? nope...but do you have data to prove the other side??? if you do, I'd like to see it.


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

John they can't do what they as the consumer create demand not the other way around don't be foolish. As long as people think like you do they will turn up the heat until you fold or say uncle. ROFL Protest and stop paying for stock holders profit and keep some of it for your self! You have a choice not to give your money to the highest bidder. Your opinion and technology not handling the volume is not what the Sharma person said to investors. Opinions are also like arse holes everyone has one. How about speak from facts to substantiate that opinion. I posted my back up data with links pointing to the facts as I posted them.


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

41. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

thanks for all of the reading materials...all of which I had read already, because they concern my carrier and phone service. your contention is that these companies CAN provide unlimited data without changing the plans. my contention is that they can't. as far as greed goes, why does ANYONE get into business? to make money!! they're not here to make you smile, give you warm and fuzzies, they're here to make a profit. the problem is that we have suckled at the teat of unlimited data and gotten fat and happy. now, it'[s being ripped away, and being told we now need to show some discipline. and most of us don't like it, apparently you don't. show discipline, or pay the price.


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

You have it all backwards....people don't go into business for greed. They go into business to earn a living and to make money, or to change the world as Mark Z. would have you believe. When stock holders and investments are rendered into the mix things change to greed. You can say what you want but had you truly read those article you would not have called my "rhetoric" an opinion....the facts in those links speak for themselves. Sharma told the JPM analyst tiered data was a way to drive sheep like you to pay more for their service. This alone lets you know its about profit. The fact that data is profitable, and they are coming up with more ways to skim your savings, and suggest that it is only being done to pass savings to stock investors I believe is an out rage, because as long as the consumer accepts this nickle and diming it never ends. I am on Sprint and have unlimited data so I am thumbing my nose to you and what you have said about usage control.

45. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

i never said it wasn't about profit. and I want you to be back out here WHEN Sprint wacks your unlimited data so you can eat some crow...


Posts: 1459; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

Hell I am in agreement here John about Sprint possibly changing the unlimited, and when they do I will be the 1st to pay full price for a phone to keep my unlimited.ROFL You just suggested that Matt, and I were off base, and was posting opinion. You also said this was not being done for profit but for off setting heavy usage that is stressing the system. Those links suggest other wise now don't they. Seems like my posting of factual links to back my post changed your thinking a bit now huh. Lobster you are posting an opinion, although you could be right in the future now it's just an opinion period

48. johnriii

Posts: 248; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

nope. the links don't suggest otherwise, because it still doesn't address the "can they really handle unlimited data, but won't" question. and I would appreciate it if you'd knock of the personal remarks. I haven't once called you out of your name, so give me and everyone else the same respect. the term Sheep implies that we have no brain power of our own, and easily led around.

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