at&t mobile shareAbout a month ago, I logged on to my AT&T account to check something, and I noticed advertising for their Mobile Share plan. We have three smartphones on our Family plan, and I’ve priced shared plans in the past and always been disappointed to see how much extra they cost. I was expecting to be disappointed again, and was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Switching plans has given us unlimited minutes (up from I think 500 or so shared minutes which we never came close to using) and 2GB of shared data. Plus phone tethering.

Data usage has never been a problem with any of us. Both my husband and I had grandfathered 200 MB plans, and when we gave my son an iPhone, he ended up with a 300 MB plan. I’m the only one who uses any significant data, and I manage to budget myself to stay within the limits. Sure, I could have increased my allowance, but our plan was already pretty expensive ($164 a month), and I didn’t want to add to it.

Now with Mobile Share, we’re saving about $35 a month, and getting lots more. I was first excited to save money (obviously), but then I discovered that tethering was included in the plan. Hooray! Phone as personal hot spot!

We’ve had a Wal-Mart hot spot device for a couple of years now, and I do like it. Coverage has been good, and the plan is fantastic. However, it’s a 3G device, and we’ve noticed the speed lag. All of our phones are 4G or LTE, and I’ve thought it would be nice to have a faster connection. Also, the Wal-Mart device has a few annoying quirks, like the fact that there’s no way to check battery level without using an app. The charger is a micro-USB, but it’s got a proprietary transformer, so we can only use its cord for charging. Using the phone as a hot spot reduces both the number of devices and number of cords while traveling, so I’m pretty excited to have tethering.

How fast is it? I tested it in the car between meetings, and browsing, sending emails and checking Feedly didn’t seem that much slower than on my home network. I doubt I’ll do much, if any, video streaming, so I think 4G will be plenty fast enough for my needs. Once again, I see no need for a cellular-enabled iPad. Tethering to my phone gives me everything I need. The extra few seconds to turn on the hot spot isn’t enough to worry about.

Saving money. Extra bandwidth. Faster connection. Gotta love it. If you’re on AT&T, I highly suggest you check it out. One caution. Make sure you switch right at the end of your billing cycle. Otherwise you’ll get killed with pro-rated charges. Luckily, the customer service rep warned me and suggested the best time to switch.


  1. Thank T-Mobile for this. Since they share similar GSM technologies, AT&T has been forced to offer benefits it’d rather not offer. Cheaper data is one.
    I found that out after a move. The new location forced me to switch my iPhone from T-Mobile to AT&T. It turns out that, although it doesn’t say so very publicly, AT&T has a prepay plan virtually identical to T-Mobile’s popular one.
    Unfortunately, what my local AT&T sales team also won’t say–I know because I asked–is that my cellular coverage is coming from a tower about seven miles away. As a result, even my hilltop location has lousy coverage.
    Yes, I’ve got two AT&T stores within three miles of my house but its closest cell tower is over twice as far away. That’s badly misplaced priorities.
    If you’re thinking about going with AT&T, check out coverage before you make the switch.

    • @Michael, I have the opposite situation. T-Mobile coverage is only okay in my area where AT&T is great. I wanted to switch to T-Mobile, but I couldn’t. We only have cell phones, and my cell is also my business phone. As tempting as it would be to not be able to take calls in my home office, it would be business suicide. I’m completely okay with T-Mobile forcing other companies to lower prices.

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