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Shared Data Plans: Verizon vs. AT&T

Now that AT&T has unwrapped their version of shared data plans, it made sense to do a comparison to Verizon’s Share Everything plans. Since these are the two biggest carriers in our country and probably hold more customers between the two than all others combined, these will clearly affect many of you. So in the simplest of comparisons, we have two charts that represent your choices for shared data and their costs, followed by a couple of scenarios to see which carrier would be best meet your needs. 

*There is a chance that AT&T will add in other tiers, but these are the 6 that they have announced.

Unlimited Talk and Text

With shared data plans, you get unlimited talk and text on both Verizon and AT&T.

Per Device Cost

For those just learning about shared data, we’ll try to give you the basic breakdown of how this all works. First, you have a per device cost which essentially accounts for the unlimited minute and text plan that accompanies all shared data plans. So in the past, you paid $69.99 for 700 minutes, but now you are paying upwards of $45 to get unlimited talk and text. With Verizon, the fee is $40 for smartphones at all times – with AT&T, that number starts at $45 and goes down depending on how much data you add on. Basic phones are $30 on either carrier. When you add hotspots, laptops or netbooks, they will cost $20 per month on either carrier. Tablets will run you $10. The low prices for each of these have to do with the lack of a minute plan since you can’t make calls on them.

Data Amount

Once you figure out how many devices you are going to attach to your account, you then decide on a data amount. As you can see above, Verizon has more options to choose from than AT&T, but there is a chance that changes in the future. The key thing to remember is that this data amount is shared by all of the phones, tablets, hotspots, and netbooks attached to your account. If you choose the 8GB plan, that doesn’t mean that each device gets to use 8GB – each device gets to pull from one lump some of 8GB.

Examples

Enough info, let’s talk examples for a second.

Example 1:  Your family has 2 smartphones and 1 basic phone, so you decide to buy 4GB of data.

Verizon:  2 smartphones at $40 per, 1 basic phone at $30 per, and a 4GB data plan for $70. Your monthly bill would roughly be $180 before fees and taxes.

AT&T:  2 smartphones at $40 per, 1 basic phone at $30 per, and a 4GB data plan for $70. Your monthly bill would roughly be $180 before fees and taxes.

As you can see, it’s a wash in this example on a numbers front.

Example 2:  You are an individual who uses little data, but needs a smartphone.

Verizon:  1 smartphone at $40 per with a 1GB plan at $50. Your monthly bill would roughly be $90 before fees and taxes.

AT&T:  1 smartphone at $45 per with a 1GB plan at $40. Your monthly bill would roughly be $85 before fees and taxes.

Smartphones owners that use little data, AT&T edges Verizon by a small margin.

Example 3:  Big family with 4 smartphones, a tablet and a hotspot. You go big with a 14GB plan.

Verizon:  4 smartphones at $40 per, plus a tablet at $10 per, and a hotspot at $20 per plus a 14GB data plan for $120.  Your monthly bill will run you around $310 before fees and taxes.

AT&T:  Since AT&T does not have a 14GB plan, we would have to go with the 15GB plan in this scenario. 4 smartphones at $30 per, 1 tablet at $10 per, and a hotspot at $20 per, plus a 15GB data plan for $160. Your monthly bill will run you around $310 before fees and taxes.

On AT&T, you get an extra 1GB of data and will pay the same price that Verizon customers will pay.

Conclusion

While the numbers may look different, especially with AT&T giving you a per device discount as you buy more data, it all comes out the same in the end for the most part. Not only that, but Verizon’s 4G LTE network covers over 300 markets at this point while AT&T’s is in only 47. It would have been surprising to see one to offer a significant discount over the other. In the end, it comes down to carrier preference just like it always has.

  • Sanitarium09

    I can’t get over how crazy expensive these plans are. What about the people who don’t need unlimited talk minutes but use a lot of data? I’ve never once went over my 450 minutes but I consistently use over 5 gb of data. With 4G, anything under 2 gb and you’re going to chew through it pretty quickly. No way in hell am i going to pay $100 a month for only 1gb of data.

  • http://twitter.com/vznsharewallet Verizon Share Wallet
  • RJ

    Ya i rather buy my phone outright then switch to that and i can keep my unlimited

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.stikeleather Jim Stikeleather

    Actually – they just suspended my unlimited data account (which I have had for over 5 years) because it exceeded 5 GB of usage. So much for “grandfathered” and so much for “throttling”. I spent 8+ hours with “customer service” – the local retail people were great” to no avail.
    All this happened because I discovered something called BuneUS on the bill that was never ordered (turns out they send a text that if you don’t respond to they says that authorizes them to bill your account). Apparently, just putting parental controls caused a contract change….
    I am a decades AT&T wireless user – high revenue, high margin (I generally don’t us much at all across multiple lines – I have over 14k rollover minutes available), generally promoted them. Not anymore. I advise a lot of businesses about how to implement BYOD with their employees – given this experience AT&T is off the short list.

  • Aclay

    Its funny to read these remarks about how every one is crying over capped plans and “i use way to much data” or “i need to be free!” If you are driving around and using over 2 to 4 gigs a month on looking crap up and gps, you shold have other problems. do you know how dumb you sound? This article should have been called “people who complain about everything and cry babies” . Does everyone think vzw and att are not for profits? Too bad you are losing unlimited, its your fault you rely on it that much. For all you babies grab your phone and go cry in the corner cause the rest of the world is moving on.

  • tom

    The Hotspot is already included in the price with Verizon. I think a correction is needed.

    • smwandrie93

      only for palm pre’s

  • droidman101

    So if you are never going to use your phone as a phone and will use 10gb:
    For 20gb, with 5 people its the same (4 people is cheaper on Verizon), but more people is cheaper on AT&T.
    Yeahhhh…I’m sticking with Verizon because they treat customers better and their LTE is a lot more widespread.

  • InvaderDJ

    Can you say collusion? Why isn’t the government stepping into this? Anyone with eyes can see we have no competition among the carriers if they just copy each other’s prices so they don’t have to worry about poaching customers.

    • droidman101

      It’s not collusion unless it can be proven they talked to each other. All AT&T did was just look at Verizon’s rates. That is not illegal.

      • InvaderDJ

        It’s not legally collusion but only because Verizon and at&t no longer need to meet or negotiate officially for stuff like this, it’s already written in stone: don’t compete with each other on price. They know they don’t want to compete or poach customers from each other and if they keep their prices and services mostly in equalibrium they don’t have to worry about it.

        Really wish T-Mobile and Sprint had decent networks to force The Big 2 to actually compete instead of just coasting on their size.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathanielnewmanmusic Nathaniel Newman

    On Verizon, you DON’T have to take the Share Everything plan. Verizon just wants you off UNLIMITED data. You can still take a tiered data plan, say 5GBs for $50. This is per device and the rest of the account (minutes, and other features) would remain the same. But moving to tiered NOT the Share Everything will still enable you to get discounted 2 years pricing. This is cheaper than paying $50 for 1GB. If you don’t need tethering or a shared data plan this is the way to go. That’s what I plan to do for my next upgrade.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshua.porrata Joshua Porrata

    No price fixing at all, move along nothing to see here.

    Unlimited data here and my fingers are crossed that no one breaks their phones.

  • Androidandwp7equalsPower

    Nice, no one is going to benefit from this but VZW and ATT. At least for the first time vzw is not the most expensive anymore.

  • Trevor

    I wonder what portion of the shared data plan a business discount would apply to.

    • http://charlesjaymeyer.wordpress.com/ Charles Meyer

      VZW business discounts apply to the data, I don’t know about AT&T

      • Trevor

        Yeah, I’m wondering if AT&T will match that or offer more.

  • bhazard

    Switched from Verizon to T-Mobile because of this crap. CDMA sucks in my area… HSPA+ kills it. Having a GS3 now with an unlocked bootloader is my final middle finger to them. I don’t miss Verizon one bit.

  • Trysta

    Why is one of the examples not: I am an individual who needs a reasonable to large amount of data? I would have thought that would represent many of the people who frequent this forum. It is individuals who want to use a smartphone for data (but not talking) that are really getting screwed here.

    But I am on T-mobile. So thankful that the merger with AT&T didn’t go through…

    This is EXACTLY why the FCC was right to block that merger. Things are bad enough as it is…

  • RW-1

    Gotta say Rob beat me to this – Lets pay for what we actually USED per month …
    Now THAT’s and IDEA the $$$ grubbers never figured on… Let everyone have unlimited access, and charge by what they actually use per month.
    For some, that might change the way they use their devices, but for most – they would just continue on using ti the way they always have.
    VERIZON CHALLENGE – C’mon, let’s show how truly innovative you can be here, oh wait a minute, what was I thinking? Not rape innocent bystanders outta their hard earned $$$ in this fracking economy? My bad ….

  • Rob Becker

    I’d rather everyone just move to metering instead of tiers. I don’t have to decide if I’m going to use 10 gallons of water or 200 gallons of water each month. I don’t get slammed with overages if I take a long shower. Imagine if the power company made you choose how many kilowatt hours you were planning on using. They are preying on people not knowing how much data anything uses and not monitoring and subsequently overbuying. I just want to pay for exactly what I use. Internet is a utility. Is that so hard?
    /rant

  • Jason James

    Just about every phone is a hot spot why would someone pay twenty dollars to do it from a different device? To save battery life the one time a week you use it?

  • fauxshizzl

    I would have named the article “Would you rather be raped by blue or red?” and put a poll in there. Seriously though, how is this not price fixing? The carriers have been getting away with this for WAY to long with no end of pocket emptying in sight.

    • Kevin

      It’s only price fixing if the two companies are colluding behind closed doors to keep prices at a similar level. They’re not actually working together; there’s just no incentive for either of them to get into a price war. Thus, they move in lock-step with pricing.

      • fauxshizzl

        It makes it hard to believe they arent doing exactly that. When one of the companies does something, the other presents a model almost identical to it within weeks. You are then left with no real choice other than who to be screwed over by.

  • ocdtrekkie

    MORE USEFUL CHART IDEA:

    X axis: Number of smartphones.
    Y axis: Amount of data needed.

    And then put the cost for that plan.

    Color the cells green if they’re cheaper than the other network, red if they cost more.

    • Nat

      Here ya go. x-axis: Number of smartphones. y-axis: Amount of data needed. z-axis: Total cost of plan. Verizon is green. AT&T is Blue. Verizon is more expensive when you have 3 or more phones.

    • CampyGuy

      You forgot to include the S-axis.

      The number of discreet subscribers that the carriers indiscreetly give the Shaft. With the axis.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2ZGKEAZNWXEKOLUH4VGWX6LSF4 Bobby Z

    wifi is where it’s at people. i used to use 10gb/month myself. now i’m at about 2gb. my wife barely uses 1-2gb’s. This new plan has saved me about $40/month.

  • NAM37

    Yup.. no price fixing or colution going on there…

    • EddieEcon

      Do you know what price fixing is? I know I don’t know what “colution” is.

  • Garrett

    These plans are freaking ridiculous. The automatic movement to mandatory unlimited talk and text for every family pisses me off. I use Google Voice and don’t need a texting service from my carrier, and my family (of 2) hasn’t used more than our 700 minute allowance in 5 years.

    The fact that I have to pay ridiculously more money when I go to upgrade my phone next for features I will never use is asanine. Just trying to keep my same plane is going to see a rise of $30 dollars a month on my bill.

    • Guest

      The fact is, if you are currently on a nationwide plan, and you upgrade, you can keep that plan. The only time you would see a $30 raise in your bill is if you go basic to smart.

  • skinja

    Kellex,
    Good write up. Can you explain how using the wifi tethering factors into this? Is the wifi tethering data part of the same pool of data or is it still an additional cost?

    If (authorized) wifi tethering was now part of the same data pool that would be a big advantage.

    Thanks

    • RiotingPanda

      WiFi tethering is included for “free,” and pulls from the pool of data you have.

  • skinja

    VZW and ATT both charge too much for their service.

    The difference is that VZW’s service actually works. I used to be on ATT. Using a phone on ATT is using a toy. Using a phone on VZW is using a tool; it actually works and makes clear calls that don’t get dropped.

  • Christopher Hsu

    Conclusion:

    Holy spaghetti monster these data plans are expensive.

    Thankfully I’m grandfathered into unlimited.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10215724 Raj Bhatt

    So basically they are both complete sh!t.

  • nico rojas

    this damn crazy .. i hate you big red ….. how am i supposed to stay witth you i guess i cant for those prices i dont need your phones in my hand… sincerley unsatisfied customer

  • socalrailroader

    SLEEP, SLEEP, SHARE, CONSUME :D

    • reyalP

      I know that movie was cheesy but I still love to watch it!

      • socalrailroader

        Me too, one of my favorite sci fi flicks!

      • xformulax

        THEY LIVE WAS NOT CHEESY… still waiting on the remake.

  • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

    Screw all carriers. There is not a huge difference between these 2, and they both suck.

    • Damu793

      Verizon rules the air!

      • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

        Yes, Verizon’s network is AMAZING and kicks the tar outta AT&T’s. But their business strategies and pricing sucks!

        • http://www.hammertechnologies.net/ Chase Johnson

          Indeed, im leaving because of the prices, not because of the service. Ill go to where i can get 2 phone with unlimited data for around $100.

          • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

            The issue I have is what good is unlimited data if it’s slow and sparce?

            You can’t expect to pay lower prices for a better network.

  • http://twitter.com/Blaine_O_C Blaine Christian

    I think I might be one of the few on this website that actually benefited from moving away from unlimited data. My family has 5 smartphones and was paying $700 a month total and each line had unlimited data. Now we share 14GB and only use about 10GB on average and two of us are responsible for 9 of the 10GB. Now were paying $350 a month. I hated the idea of moving away from unlimited data, but in our case we actually are saving over a grand a year, so it was a win for us. (We also get a corporate discount of 20% off our plans)

    • jroc74

      I am one of the few that the shared plans would save me money. I dont think I can give up unlimited data tho. I have went over 20-30GB a few times. But for the most part I stay between 200MB to 6GB. I average 500MB. Right now I’m at 1.2GB and my cycle starts over the 26th. I have wifi at home and when I leave the house…I actually interact with ppl instead of my phone..

      Seriously…lol, I use my data when waiting for ppl, when at dr appts, car repairs, on public transportation, etc.

  • KleenDroid

    Screw them all

  • Sodev

    Verizon: Locked bootloaders
    AT&T: freedom to root

    • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

      My Verizon Gnex is unlocked.

      • reyalP

        Verizon still screwed up the Gnex with the official updates from Google. Verizon has become a rotten egg.

        • http://profiles.google.com/adamtruelove Adam Truelove

          Oh, you’re correct there for sure. Verizon doesn’t give 2 craps about the Gnex. But for the time being, at least there is a good Nexus phone on Verizon. I have no idea if there ever will be again, and that makes me sad.

    • jroc74

      There is freedom to root on damn near any Android phone on any carrier…

      ?

  • HueThree

    price fixing..government get on this.

    • capecodcarl

      I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

  • Superguy

    Also don’t forget AT&T won’t force you off of a traditional plan and data plan if you want to keep it when you renew. Verizon will unless you buy full retail.

    • unaffected

      how long do you actually think they will offer unlimited data when you buy full retail? That is not going to last long I don’t think.

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/adamalter Adam Alter

        Yeah AT&T is all about knocking people off their unlimited data plan, and it’s just a matter of time. My mother-in-law simply added tethering (+$30) to her account and they knocked her off her unlimited data. VZ doesn’t even knock you off your grandfathered unlimited data for adding tethering (yet) as I did it multiple times.

        • Southrncomfortjm

          Get the free apps that get you tethering without the verizon charge. I think FoxFi doesn’t even neet rooting.

      • Marc Cohen

        If you have $35 unlimited today….Full retail will be cheaper over the course of 2 years, until they raise the price of the devices. Do the math….

    • JoYu

      Not true, they will force you off unlimited but you can keep old 2Gb per line style

  • collude…notus

    nice comparison…amazing that their total costs come out to be almost identical…no collusion here /s

  • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

    Costs exactly the same for 2 phones with unlimited for 2 phones with 10gb. Further more one line at unlimited is the same price as one line with 1gb.

  • Sodev

    Verizon: Locked bootloaders
    AT&T: freedom to root

    • booya

      You are misinformed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/minh43 Minh Ly

      I hope you understand locked bootloaders and rooting are two different things. You can still root VZW android phones.

      • unaffected

        Isn’t it easier to root when the bootloader is unlocked?

        • http://www.facebook.com/minh43 Minh Ly

          No, there are various 1-click root processes that will root regardless of the bootloader. You can root and still have a locked bootloader. See DroidX, and any Asus tablet.

      • JoshGroff

        This^

      • jroc74

        E x a c t l y….lol.

    • Michael_NM

      Verizon: I always have a signal.
      AT&T: Where’s the closest wi-fi?

      • HueThree

        At&t has great signal, have you ever tried it?

        • OfTheDamned

          Yes and the 2 foot square I could make calls in was great! Outside that square signal was non-existent. BTW, that is not an exaggeration it was literally a 2 foot square.

          At&t’s customer disservice is the reason I have Verizon now.

        • Cuong Tran

          I have tried, At&t drops call’s consistently.

          • HueThree

            Not for me. I get excellent data and voice coverage throughout most of the places I travel to in NY state on Straight Talk Att

  • Trevor

    nice write up glad i still have unlimited

    • Damu793

      Glad I still have unlimited;)

      • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

        Glad I still have Double Data 10GB . . . Am I cool too?

        • Damu793

          No!!

        • http://twitter.com/BlackBlizzNerd Ben Landwehr

          5gigs is over priced too. So, no!

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            Come on Guys… We’re all Droid-Lifers here

        • JoshGroff

          I have Double Data 4GB, but I only use 1-2GB. >.>
          <–This guy uses that WiFi.

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            Wifi is cool… but when I’m on the Go that doesn’t help. ANd 4GB would make me feel suffocated lol… I need to be free! Once Sprint has LTE up and running where I am…. I’ll head back

          • JoshGroff

            I’m thinking about opening a Sprint line as well, Amazon has some nice deals on phones right now and I’ll probably want unlimited at a later time. Might as well lock it before they kill it.

          • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

            I’m sure there will be leaks, and an announcement wayyyy before they Kill Unlimited since that’s their only selling point now… you should be safe for a while…. I’m guessing once their 4G rollout stabilizes by nextsummer

          • JoshGroff

            True, and hopefully VZW rolls out that bring your own phone unlimited everything plan so I can ETF and just use that.

          • michael arazan

            No wifi on the interstate and roads for navigation, or finding places close to you that you may need or want to go to out and about. LTE 4g is actually cheaper for them to maintain I’ve read which doesn’t help them jack up the prices. If these companies ever get rid of the G-Fathered unlimited, sprint’s unlimited is going to be a force to reckon with

          • JoshGroff

            That’s true, but navigation doesn’t use up that much data, I think in one of the double data commercials they said 4GB is enough for something like 30 days of continuous navigation. I’d like to see where Sprint’s at with LTE coverage at the end of this year.

        • anon

          glad i work for corporate and have unlimited everything for free and I just upgraded yesterday lol.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003828023600 Justin Myers

        Right. I use about 8-10GB/month. I cannot be capped. I would be paying out the ass. lol

    • Scottyb112

      glad i still have unlimited too, At $19.99 a month! Cant beat that anywhere else :)