How to connect the iPad via AT&T Mobile Share
With the arrival of AT&T’s new Mobile Share plans, which allow multiple devices to share a single pool of data, I thought I’d check and see what it would take to hook my AT&T iPhone and my AT&T iPad together onto a single plan. The answer: It takes a lot, but it can be done.
At a glance, AT&T’s Mobile Share plans—which charge you one monthly fee for a shared pool of data, plus individual monthly fees for every device attached to your plan—don’t seem to make sense unless you have lots of devices (or want to use FaceTime or tethering). My bill, which would only cover my iPhone and iPad, would increase by quite a bit if I switched to Mobile Share—though, granted, I’d then have access to my larger pool of iPhone data rather than a separate, tiny pool of iPad data.
Regardless, here’s the deal: According to the AT&T customer-service rep I spoke with, the iPad can be added to any AT&T Mobile Share plan, for the requisite $10 per month fee for every tablet device added to a plan. However, there are a few catches.
First, according to the man on the other end of the phone, I’d need a new microSIM card for my iPad. If I wanted to make the switch immediately, I’d need to visit an AT&T retail store to get the card, but if I wanted to wait AT&T could send me one.
Second, since this would be considered the activation of a new device on my account, I’d be charged a $36 one-time activation fee.
So while it’s nice to know that there is a way to add an AT&T iPad to a shared data pool, it’s an inelegant process spiked with extra fees.
Maybe AT&T will rectify this in the future and make it a better process—especially if it can work with Apple to ensure that existing AT&T customers are prompted to log in with their full AT&T accounts when activating an iPad’s cellular data plan. But given AT&T’s repeated failure to support new Apple features without lengthy delays, artificial price barriers, or both, I’m not holding out a lot of hope.
[Update 08/28/12 2:30 pm PT: According to an AT&T spokesperson who responded after we posted this story, "AT&T iPad owners do not have to get a new SIM to join Mobile Share"—contrary to what we were told by the AT&T service rep. If you look at the comments below, you'll see that other users are also getting contradictory information from AT&T.]