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AT&T's lower off-contract pricing and revamped Mobile Share plans launch next week

Brad Molen
12.05.13
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Whether or not you buy into T-Mobile CEO John Legere's UnCarrier strategy, we can't dispute the fact that it's at least making waves in the US wireless industry. Some of the network's biggest competitors are responding with new strategies of their own, and AT&T is one of them. Starting next Sunday, the GSM giant will make a few noticeable tweaks to its Mobile Share and Next plans. What's on the menu for December 8th? Quite a bit, so let's break it down.

Under the current plans, your per-smartphone cost goes down as your data plan goes up; for instance, you pay $50 per smartphone on the 300MB plan, but only $30 if you're on any plan that's 10GB or higher. And as it stands right now, you still pay that same amount after your contract expires. With the new changes, you can tack smartphones onto your plan at a flat rate of $40 a pop, but you get a $15 discount on each one if you aren't in a contract. (AT&T informed us that as soon as your commitment expires, the rate is automatically taken off, so you don't need to call in to make the adjustment.) Basic phones are lower too, seeing a drop from $30 per handset to $20.

Along with this change, the base cost for each data tier has moved as well; we'll add a table after the break to show what's different. The higher tiers get a significant drop to make up for the additional per-device charge, so keep that in mind if you have a lot of smartphones on your plan. On the other hand, the lower tiers become more advantageous when you add more lines. There's also a new 8GB plan that fits right in between the 6GB and 10GB options.

Last but not least, AT&T's also adding another choice on its Next plans: while you currently can choose to pay off your phone over the course of 20 months and be eligible for an upgrade on your one-year anniversary, you'll now have an additional option of paying off the phone over 26 months but only be eligible for a new upgrade after 18 months. This may not sound all that much better, and it's not going to be ideal for everyone, but the idea is that it at least brings down the total monthly cost. We're not all that keen on any Next plan to begin with, if you ask us, but hey -- at least there's choice.

Old base rate Old per-smartphone New base rate New per-smartphone (contract) New per-smartphone (Next or no-contract)
300MB $20 $50 20 40 25
1GB $40 $45 45 40 25
2GB $50 $45 55 40 25
4GB $70 $40 70 40 25
6GB $90 $35 80 40 25
8GB N/A N/A 90 40 25
10GB $120 $30 100 40 25
15GB $160 $30 130 40 25
20GB $200 $30 150 40 25
30GB $300 $30 225 40 25
40GB $400 $30 300 40 25
50GB $500 $30 375 40 25
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