Well it was only a matter of time before it would happen, and as of yesterday, it now has. AT&T has now decided to switch to a shared data plan for smart phones. It'll be called "AT&T Mobile Share" and it'll start at $40 per month plus $45 per smartphone for unlimited voice minutes and messaging and 1GB of data.

These Mobile Share plans will top out at $200 plus $30 per smartphone for unlimited voice and texts plus 20GB of data. Additional data will cost you $15 per gigabyte. Feature phones will cost you $30 per device, connected laptops will cost $20 each, and tablets can be added for $10 per device. AT&T has said the new Mobile Share plans are not replacing existing plans, but from my view, what's the incentive for them not to? Verizon has already set it up so that everyone will be on their new plans sooner or later, and this this will cost some people more money for less data.

AT&T and Verizon's reasoning for rolling out plans like this, is that a high percentage of users use less than 1 gigabyte of data a month on their devices, but the cost of data and increased usage is killing their networks. It kind of smacks of when Time Warner wanted to go to a tiered usage plan and the internet lashed back on them. Only in this case there hasn't been much of an uproar, and Time Warner is trying to roll out tiered pricing again. The main reason for the backlash in Time Warner's case was the plans sucked. But here, AT&T may save you money for family plans of 2 or more people. But you should still do your homework on the cost to you.

Thankfully, smart phones and tablets have WiFi to help with keeping 3G/4G data usage under 1 Gigabyte. This will allow most users not to get hit with those extra charges. Watch my Tech Thursday video for more info on the WiFi aspect of smart phones and how they save you some money on these data plans. If you would like to ready AT&T's press release about the new Mobile Share plans, Boy Genius Report has a copy posted.