Verizon launches 'Share Everything' family data plans

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) unveiled its shared data plan pricing, bringing to a close months of speculation about how its plans would be structured and potentially ushering in a new wave of competition over how data plans are priced.

Verizon's Share Everything shared data plans video

Click here for a video from Verizon on its new shared data plans.

The carrier said its new plans, dubbed "Share Everything," will go into effect June 28 for new customers and existing customers who want to switch to them. All of the plans will include unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text, video and picture messaging and a single data allowance for up to 10 Verizon devices. In addition, the carrier's Mobile Hotspot service on all the devices is included in the Share Everything Plans at no additional charge. Customers are free to keep their existing plans, but there is no fee or contract extension to move to the new Share Everything plans.

The plans are priced in two ways. First, customers pay a monthly fee for each device on the account: smartphones cost $40 per device, basic features phones cost $30, USB modems, Jetpack mobile hotspots and netbooks cost $20 and tablets cost $10, and can be added on a no-contract basis. Then, customers choose how much data they want to share. The data options break down as follows on a per month basis:

  • $50 for 1 GB
  • $60 for 2 GB
  • $70 for 4 GB
  • $80 for 6 GB
  • $90 for 8 GB
  • $100 for 10 GB

Currently, if Verizon customers want to have multiple data plans, each device requires its own separate data plan. Under those plans, Verizon charges $30 per month for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB.

So, for example, a family of three with three postpaid smartphones would pay at least $30 each for 2 GB of data for each line, for a total cost among the three customers of $90 for 6 GB. Adding unlimited calling would add an additional $170 per month and adding unlimited messaging would cost an additional $30 per month for a grand total of $290.

Under the new plans, each smartphone would cost $40 per month ($120 for three) and 6 GB of data would run $80, for a total cost of $200 per month. The plans produce more savings as more devices like tablets are also added to the mix. Additionally, families where some members use much more data than others are also likely to benefit.

The plans are a recognition that data is becoming more important than ever and that customers are adopting multiple data-enabled devices. The plans could also be a way to get customers to add more devices with cellular connectivity to their families' usage. Multiple analyst reports have shown, for example, that many customers with tablets have so far chosen Wi-Fi-only tablets because they do not want to pay for a separate cellular data plan.

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is also moving toward shared data plans, with the goal of enticing customers to add additional devices to the carrier's network. Speaking at an investor conference last month, AT&T CFO John Stephens said that, hypothetically, if AT&T could develop a data plan that charged an extra $10 or $15 on top of a smartphone data plan to induce a customer to bring their tablet onto the company's cellular data network instead of simply using Wi-Fi, "people would welcome that. We'd like to do that."

Interestingly, T-Mobile USA has specifically said it won't offer shared data plans.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Verizon factsheet (PDF)
- see this CNET article
- see this AP article

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