AT&T Cuts Price Of Family Plans To Keep Competitive

AT&T has offered to cut rates on certain family price packages, responding to similar offers from competitor T-Mobile.

AT&T Cuts Price Of Family Plans To Keep Competitive
Flickr / Matt Hollingsworth

Wireless carrier AT&T slashed prices on its family plans Saturday in what looks like the company's latest attempt to keep up with an increasingly competitive market.

AT&T's new offering gives unlimited talk and text, along with 10 GB of shared data, to customers with two smartphones for $130. Every line after that costs $15 more — so a family of four would pay $160 total for this deal.

The Verge puts that proposal in perspective: "Under the old pricing structure four (off-contract) smartphones could share 4GB for $175 per month. Now those same phones could get a 10GB plan for $10 less per month.

But The New York Times points out, there's a catch; new customers who aren't bringing their own devices with them will have to pay the full cost of a new phone, either out of pocket or through AT&T's Next installment plan.

"The new family plan may be more expensive than some of AT&T's other plans if each family member chooses a high-end smartphone. But it can be a good deal for families where at least a few people — like the children — choose cheaper smartphones."

AT&T says the price cut is about staying competitive in the mobile market. Businessweek notes the company has faced a lot of pressure recently from rival carrier T-Mobile.

Businessweek points out T-Mobile "has gained 2.1 million monthly customers in the past three quarters ... fueled by a switch to no-contract plans and quicker phone upgrades and payment financing. The gains at T-Mobile have helped slow AT&T's user growth."

AT&T plans to start rolling out the new pricing Sunday. The company says customers on an existing contract can switch over for free, but will have to pay for a new phone using AT&T's new system once their contract expires.