FAQ: Which carrier's shared data plan is better?

AT&T's Mobile Share plan launches Aug. 23; How does it compare to Verizon's Share Everything?

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Who really gets hurt with these plans? The biggest losers with shared data plans seem to be those lonely single smartphone users who use plenty of data but don't care much about free voice or texting. Under Verizon's plan, which is mandatory, a single new smartphone customer would pay a minimum of $40 for the smartphone and $50 a month for 1GB of data and unlimited voice and text -- a total of $90 per month. With AT&T that comparable solo cost would be $95 under Mobile Share.

Just for fun, how does the single-user AT&T Mobile Share plan cost of $95 per month compare with an individual plan? The closest comparable individual plan for a smartphone from AT&T would cost $70 for unlimited voice, plus $20 more for 300MB of data per month or $30 for 3GB of data per month. (There's no 1GB data plan for an individual with AT&T.) Unlimited texting would cost another $20 per month. That individual plan for a smartphone from AT&T would require a minimum monthly payment of $120, actually offering less data than what the Mobile Share plan would cost with unlimited voice and data.

Who else loses? Verizon customers on unlimited data plans hit the roof when Share Everything was announced in June and don't seem to have calmed down in recent weeks. Unlimited data customers are now being were told by Verizon that they are not required to move to Share Everything, but if they do, the unlimited data will not be retained on their line.

The only way to keep unlimited data is by choosing to upgrade by paying full retail price for an unlocked phone (possibly more than $500) or by using an older phone. As an alternative to picking a Share Everything Plan, unlimited customers will be allowed to pick a standalone data plan for $30 for 2GB, Verizon said. Share Everything charges $60 for 2GB, but also offers free voice and texting.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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This story, "FAQ: Which carrier's shared data plan is better?" was originally published by Computerworld.

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