AT&T intros Mobile Share Family Value plan, but read the fine print first

AT&T’s new Mobile Share Family Value Plan. These monthly costs don’t include what you’ll pay for the phones you use.

It seems like everyone is going “un-carrier” these days, slowly branching out from the standard two-year contracts that have dominated the US smartphone industry for the last few years. Today AT&T announced a new “Mobile Share Value Plan” for families and small businesses, which gives both new and existing AT&T customers the opportunity to share unlimited talk and text and a 10GB pool of data starting at $130 a month. AT&T’s pricing table indicates that you’ll be paying $100 for the 10GB of data and $15 for each phone you connect—three lines will run you $145 a month, four will cost $160, and so on up to a total of 10 lines for $250 a month.

New-to-AT&T customers who want to take advantage of the new pricing will either need to sign up for AT&T’s Next program, bring their own unlocked devices, or buy phones at the standard unsubsidized price. Next program customers pay nothing up-front for new phones, but need to pay the full unsubsidized price of their phones in monthly installments. The cost of these installments isn’t included in the Mobile Share pricing table above.

Whether AT&T’s plan will actually save current customers any money depends on your specific situation. I personally am on an AT&T MobileShare plan that gives the two iPhones on it unlimited talking and texting plus a pool of 6GB of data to share, and our two-year contracts won’t be up for renewal for another 20 months. Each phone currently costs $40 and the data costs $80, for a total of $160 (plus other account fees). We could save $25 a month by switching to the new 10GB plan, and gain 4GB of extra data to use to boot—by the time our contracts were up, we’d have saved approximately $500. If we were on the current 10GB Mobile Share plan, we’d be saving $45 a month, for a total of about $900. We’d be on the hook to join AT&T Next or buy unsubsidized phones when our contracts were up, though, and assuming we both bought high-end phones we’d end up paying around $600 per phone rather than the $200 per phone we’d pay with the current subsidized pricing model. The closer you are to your contract’s renewal date, the less you’d stand to save by switching.

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