Verizon today unveiled their long-teased Share Everything shared data plans. The plans are an improvement over Verizon’s current metered plans, and usher in unlimited voice, text, and data-driven pricing for devices.
The pricing starts at a base of between $50 to $100 for 1 to 10 GB of data. You then pay a per device fee of $40 for each smartphone, $30 for each feature phone, $20 for each laptop/hotspot, and $10 for each tablet on your account, up to ten devices. Mobile hotspot and tethering is free on all capable devices. These plans replace Nationwide as Verizon’s flagship plans.
Base plans start at $50, but don’t forget to add device costs. For a smartphone, that makes the minimum plan cost $90/month for a 1 GB data plan with unlimited voice and messaging. Shared device per-month costs then add to that.
The plans aren’t poorly priced, but aren’t for everyone. The plan best suits families that have one or two data users, and many talk/text-oriented users. It allows for the high cost of data for that one or two users in a family to be spread across many devices.
But, compared to prepaid, the prices are going in an opposite direction. For example, Straight Talk (which now uses Verizon’s network on select Android smartphones), is not only $40/month cheaper than the lowest-cost plan for two smartphones on Verizon, but offers 7 GB more data per month.
For most data-hungry users, you’re really better off with a throttled prepaid 3G/4G existence, on Straight Talk, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile or Cricket. Regional plays such as MetroPCS deliver unthrottled 4G for $70/month, and roam on Verizon’s network when outside of a MetroPCS coverage area. For two smartphones, a 1 GB shared data plan runs $110. That means for $30/month more, you get unlimited 4G LTE data on MetroPCS, plus roaming on Verizon’s towers.
Again, data-hungry users, this plan isn’t for you. Verizon is clearly targeting mainstream audiences that rarely use half a gigabyte of data in a month. For them, the value proposition is the ability to add a MiFi or tablet quickly, while benefitting from the device subsidies that a contract plan offers.
Verizon Wireless isn’t shunning those data-hungry users that have held on, however. Millions of unlimited data customers are likely only on Verizon at this point, because of grandfathering. Unlimited 4G LTE data is still unthrottled, and Verizon says customers with their plans won’t lose them after June 28. However, after June 28, customers with unlimited data will no longer receive device subsidies. That means if your contract is up for renewal, and you are planning on staying with Verizon, it’s a good idea to renew now.
We did ask Verizon if 3G smartphone customers will have to worry about upgrading to a 4G LTE smartphone down the road. The last time Verizon fundamentally changed its plans, customers with feature phones and unlimited data were in for a bit of a surprise, as they were not allowed to keep their grandfathered unlimited data plans. With no LTE-powered iPhone in sight (at least, before June 28), many were starting to get concerned.
Thankfully, Verizon Wireless has assured PhoneNews.com that you will be able to migrate from 3G smartphone to 4G LTE smartphone, after June 28, and keep your grandfathered unlimited data plan. You will, however, still have to pay full retail pricing for new devices. With today’s iPhones going up to $799 for full retail price, that may mean waiting for second-hand device availability for many.
In the end, Verizon’s shared data pricing is likely the future for all Tier 1 carriers in the postpay market. It allows for easier sale of tablets, LTE-enabled laptops, and hotspots. However, it also will price a lot of people out of the postpay market, and push them to prepaid.