When choosing a cellphone carrier for the entire family, it's important to take many different factors into account. Limits on minutes and data transfer vary by provider. There are also differences in pricing and extra benefits. While every carrier supplies most of the same services, seemingly minor variations may have a major impact on the total expense. It's crucial to carefully compare the offerings of different providers, such as Sprint and AT&T. Compare Sprint vs AT&T plans below to get an idea of each carrier's plan offerings, then read on for a detailed comparison.
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Family cell phone plans cost a considerable amount of money, so this choice shouldn't be taken lightly. Be sure to think about specific wants and needs before selecting a plan or carrier. For instance, people ought to estimate the amount of data that their family members will send and receive in a typical month. Count up the number of wireless devices in the home as well.
A sharing or family plan is different because it has a single data transfer limit for all of the portable devices in a household. Customers of AT&T can choose between several different plans that it offers under the Mobile Share Value brand. These plans give families a wide range of options to accommodate their specific needs and budgetary constraints.
In the past, Sprint's shared plan was known as a Family Share Pack. The wireless provider has retired this option and replaced it with plans that it sells under the Better Choice name. Although Sprint doesn't specifically call them family plans, they enable customers to use two or more devices while maintaining a single data transfer limit.
Voice and Text
Sprint and AT&T provide similar voice and text messaging services. Both companies let family plan customers talk for as many hours as they want. Users may also send an unlimited number of text messages. However, this only applies to communications between individuals within the United States. When AT&T customers opt to pay for data transfer limits of at least 15 gigabytes, they can make unlimited calls to Canada and Mexico as well. The same goes for text messaging.
Sprint customers in the United States may call Canada or Mexico at no extra charge. The company also offers a free add-on known as Open World. It allows people to send unlimited text messages and make any number of calls when they travel to certain foreign countries. The same plan includes a gigabyte of data transfer that can be used when traveling abroad.
Both companies offer data transfer limits starting at one gigabyte per month. Service doesn't actually terminate if customers exceed their limits, but the speed reduces significantly. The least expensive option at AT&T has a base monthly rate of $30. Three gigabytes will cost $10 more. Six gigabytes go for $60, and 10 GB service sells for $80. The most expensive shared plan supplies 100 GB. Power users can plan on spending $450 per month for this high-end option.
What happens if an AT&T customer exceeds his or her data limit? Download speeds decrease to 128 Kbps at maximum. This reduction remains in effect until the current billing period comes to an end. This is still faster than a dial-up Internet connection, but it isn't adequate for most streaming videos. The AT&T policy on rollovers allows excess data capacity to be used during the subsequent month. However, it expires after two months have elapsed.
Sprint's economical one-gigabyte shared plan costs $20 per month, about 33 percent less than AT&T charges. Customers may upgrade to six gigabytes for $45, or pay $60 monthly for 12 gigabytes of data transfer. The most expensive option costs $100 and allows users to download 40 gigabytes. Sprint recommends it for heavy video, music and GPS users. An unlimited plan sells for $70 per month, but speeds drop after customers transfer 22 GB.
Unlike AT&T, Sprint doesn't allow people to roll over unused data transfer capacity to the next month. This makes it less desirable for families who use the mobile Internet for unpredictable amounts of time. The company enforces the same overage policy as AT&T. Users may transfer unlimited amounts of information at 128 Kbps after exceeding the above-mentioned limits. They don't have to worry about paying any extra fees if this occurs.
Both carriers charge a monthly fee for every separate device a household uses. For example, a tablet and a notebook computer could add $30 to the total expense. Smartphones generally produce the largest price hikes. Sprint's family plans permit a maximum of 10 wireless devices, and AT&T enforces the same limit. The associated fees are fairly similar.
At AT&T, customers pay different amounts based on their data transfer limits. If a plan supplies no more than five gigabytes, each smartphone costs $20 per month. The monthly fee rises to $40 when users sign two-year agreements. Notebook computers also increase the monthly expense by $20. The same goes for any device that generates its own wireless Internet hot spot. Wearables and tablets cost $10 monthly and data limits do not apply.
Many Sprint users pay $20 each month for every smartphone. Like AT&T, this provider charges $40 for phones on two-year agreements. Portable broadband devices and tablet computers increase the monthly bill by $10. Customers may only use this equipment if they have a minimum of one smartphone assigned to the plan. Prices are the same regardless of the data limit a family selects.
Customers have the option to use smartphones that they have already purchased. Otherwise, they must make payments on phones supplied by the carrier. This adds another substantial fee to the monthly bill. The price differs depending on the specific phone model. A recent unit with sophisticated features may cost up to $30. Sprint and AT&T users no longer need to pay this fee after they have fully paid for their smartphones.
Certain wireless providers try to entice customers with additional benefits. Unlike Sprint, AT&T also sells satellite television service. Its DirecTV system gives viewers access to programs from hundreds of different channels. When families sign up for both DirecTV and AT&T wireless phone service, they can transfer unlimited amounts of data on their smartphones. A downside is that access becomes somewhat slower after users download 22 gigabytes during a single billing cycle.
Perhaps a family has two tablet computers and a pair of phones. This household would probably cut costs by choosing AT&T if it also uses satellite TV. However, Sprint offers the least expensive unbundled option. Keep in mind that it limits high-speed data transfers to one gigabyte. This is a desirable plan for families that don't use the wireless Internet frequently or don't mind connecting at a slower speed most of the time.
Sprint generally provides the best value regardless of the desired data limit or number of devices. The two companies have similar overage rules, but AT&T maintains a much more favorable policy on rollovers. Text messaging and voice offerings aren't much different. However, people who regularly call Mexico or Canada may prefer Sprint. Although it's quite costly, the highest shared data limit is available from AT&T.
The right choice primarily depends on the number of devices in a household and how family members use them. It's also important to ensure that a carrier offers coverage in the area surrounding a customer's home. Roaming charges can make a seemingly affordable plan become much more expensive; carriers must pay for access to competitors' networks. Sprint and AT&T are both advantageous for different groups of people, but Sprint generally charges less per gigabyte of data.
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