The Problem With AT&T’s Shared Data


Not long ago, Verizon made the switch to shared data plans. This ruffled many feathers, but some people actually make out better with the price shift. Unsurprisingly, AT&T is now jumping on the shared data plan bandwagon. Is this collusion, or is it just competition helping the market evolve? I’m on the fence.

AT&T Mobile Share plans include unlimited talk, text & picture messaging and your choice of data package to share with all of your devices on your account. Additionally, all Mobile Share plans include mobile hotspot on applicable devices. —AT&T FAQ (5GB data plan is required to enable Mobile Hotspot or tethering.)

The biggest problem is the incredibly low caps. The plans range wildly from very low to pretty low. What is five or six gigs going to do? Not much.

Our Mobile Share plans require at least one smartphone per group and all devices must be on the same account. You can share unlimited talk, text and your choice of data with up to nine additional devices per group: smartphones, basic/quick messaging phones, tablets, gaming devices, USB modems, netbooks, laptops or mobile hotspots. You can have more than one Mobile Share group per account. —AT&T FAQ

This would be a lot easier to swallow if we didn’t have unlimited data plans available in recent memory. It gets even worse when you do the math on how fast you could blow through your data cap on LTE. I have a result from my iPad on an LTE connection. I was getting 17.33 Mbps down. Roughly 38 minutes of that throughput would burn through a 5 GB cap. There is some major cognitive dissonance here. On one hand, the telecoms are incessantly bragging about how fast their networks are. On the other hand, actually using their fast networks burns through your cap in less than an hour. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

You do not have to change your current data plan to a Mobile Share plan. Only Mobile Share plans allow sharing of unlimited talk, text and data, so if you want to share data across devices you will need to change to a Mobile Share plan. — AT&T FAQ

You’re not forced to change over your current plan yet, but it’s only a matter of time until AT&T feels like shutting you down. Using cellular data in the US is a bag of hurt still, and it doesn’t seem like it will be getting better any time soon.

Source: AT&T

Grant is a writer from Delaware. In his spare time, Grant maintains a personal blog, hosts The Weekly Roar, hosts Quadcast, and writes for video games.