AT&T Mobile Share Value serves up savings for off-contract customers

$15 per month discount per smartphone starting December 8

Thinking about jumping ship when your AT&T contract is up? Starting Sunday, the carrier is dangling a discount to smartphone customers who stay put, without the need for a new contract.

AT&T has announced new Mobile Share Value plans that promise a savings of $15 per month for each smartphone line, which automatically kicks in once an existing contract is up.

Starting December 8 (PDF link), new and existing customers can choose from "No Annual Service Contract" smartphone plans starting at $45 per month with unlimited talk and text plus 300MB of data. Additional handsets can be added for $25 per month instead of $40 per month for hardware subsidized by the carrier.

AT&T Next will also see a change this Sunday making it cheaper for customers with up to four smartphones to extend their payments over 26 months, with the option to upgrade to a new device after only 18 months.

Truly a value?

With messy two-year agreements out of the way, the best method of weighing the savings of AT&T's Mobile Share Value plans is a direct comparison with T-Mobile, a carrier with Simple Choice plans that already offer such benefits.

AT&T's single-device smartphone plan offers unlimited talk and text with 300MB of data per month for $45; T-Mobile's competing plan is $5 more per month, but serves up 500MB of data every 30 days.

T-Mobile also comes out a bit cheaper for families with three smartphone lines, where 2.5GB of data for each is only $100 per month, compared with AT&T's 2GB of shared data at $130.

While there's little chance that AT&T will ever directly match T-Mobile's aggressive pricing, its new Mobile Share Value plans show that the old-school subsidy wall is gradually coming down, brick by brick.