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Verizon Wireless Launches Shared Data Plans
Verizon Prepares Pricing for the Death of Voice Minutes
by Karl Bode 10:05AM Tuesday Jun 12 2012
Verizon today finally unveiled the company's first even shared data or family plan, which allows users in one household to pull from a pool of minutes -- much like users have been able to do with voice minutes for years. Under the company's new "Share Everything" plans, users still pay an initial monthly fee for each device being connected to the family's plan ($40 for smartphones, $20 for laptops, $10 per tablets) but users get unlimited text and voice -- and can pull collectively from family data pools up to 10 GB.
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In addition to monthly flat fees per device, users can pay: $50 for 1GB, $60 for 2GB, $70 for 4GB, $80 for 6GB, $90 for 8GB, and $100 for 10 GB of shared data each month. Given the continued high price of data and the flat fee for each device to connect to the network -- these plans aren't quite the revelation many had hoped, though some users may find savings in pooled data.

The pricing reflects numerous shifts in industry thinking, while at the same time showing a lack of real evolution. As we've been exploring, carriers were wary not to erode revenue by implementing family plans that eliminated the income gleaned from each device paying a fee -- so Verizon kept that intact. As we also have discussed, as user voice minute usage is reduced, carriers are expected to only offer unlimited voice so as to keep consumers from paying less each month.

Will you save money on the new plans? Possibly, depending on your needs and patience with billing experimentation. Two users on Verizon's current family share plans may wind up paying less in voice charges (from $90 for two devices and 1400 minutes to $80 for two devices with unlimited voice), but Verizon clearly plans to make their money back on data charges. Those users were paying $30 each for 4 GB of data combined, now pay $70 for that same 4 GB. One major plus however: you won't be charged extra to use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot.

Verizon's goal is to prepare for the future -- preventing users from paying less as voice and SMS become irrelevant, while keeping per GB data pricing high so Verizon can soak up the overages. Not too surprisingly, Verizon expresses this somewhat differently.

"When developing these plans, we first asked customers what they wanted in a wireless service plan," says Verizon Wireless of the shift. "Share Everything Plans are the outcome of that research. They cover every device Verizon Wireless offers, from basic phones to smartphones, from tablets to Jetpacks and more. Share Everything Plans represent a tremendous shift in how customers think about wireless service."

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