Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Verizon Shared Data Plan Details Revealed

The details for Verizon's new shared data plans were revealed today.  I would first recommend going directly to Verizon's main Shared Plan page and then try their Share Everything Plan Tool.  On their tool, you pick the number and type of device you have on your plan, your minute usage range, text usage range and data usage range and it will give you a recommended plan/rate.  Then you can compare that to what you're currently paying to see if switching is worth while.  You are not required to switch to a new shared data plan, even if you change your phone/contract.

First, a few specifics.  The shared data plans would provide unlimited minutes and unlimited texting for any phones on the plan, in addition to sharing your data allotment between any number of devices on your plan and you can use your device as a WiFi hot spot, something that used to cost an additional $20 if you did it legitimately.  

However, you can't just add tablets and other devices to your account for free, they would each result in an additional monthly fee if you wanted to use them on the 3G/4G cell network:

Let's go through my example with 2 smart phones on our existing plan.  Each smartphone will get a $40 charge, then you pick your amount of shared data.  So 2 phones would be $40 each and since my wife and I currently utilize about 1.5GB each of data per month, we'd need the 4GB of shared data which would be $70, for a total of $150 plus taxes and fees.  Taxes and fees are currently $15, but I get a 22% discount on just the primary line through my work, which is around $15 so lets just call that even, so the total bill would be $150.   For that rate you would get unlimited minutes, unlimited texting and 4GB of data to share between phones.  That was the plan recommended for me based on what I entered into their tool.

Right now my final bill per month is $135 with all fees.  That includes 500 outside Verizon minutes/Unlimited Verizon mobile to mobile minutes, 500 text messages outside of Verizon/Unlimited text within Verizon and unlimited data.  Since we typically use less then 200 minutes per month outside of Verizon and less then 200 texts outside of Verizon per month, it does not make any sense to change our plan.

However, if we upgrade our phones to a 4G LTE phone, they no longer allow you to retain your unlimited status.  I wasn't sure what they were going to force you into, but based on the question below it looks like you will have to either do the shared plan or pay $30 for 2GB for each phone.  

From their Frequently Asked Questions:
I have an unlimited data plan on my account. Do I need to change it?

You're not required to move to Share Everything but if you do, unlimited data will not be retained on your line. As a Verizon Wireless customer you have choices when you upgrade at discounted pricing. You can choose from a standalone data package starting at $30 for 2GB or a Share Everything Plan. If keeping unlimited is important to you, you can choose to upgrade and pay full retail price for the phone.

So I now know what will likely happen.  If we want to upgrade to the iPhone 5, which we plan to do, then we can keep our existing cheaper plan, which is one of those old old plans no longer available and we can just change our data from unlimited to 2GB each for the same rate we're currently paying.  We just have to pay the charges to upgrade the phones.  Or we can stay with our existing phones and retain the unlimited data.

That is kinda what I was expecting, but was hoping perhaps the Shared Data plans would offer more like maybe 5GB for the same price we're paying now, but no such luck.  If we were to utilize our cell phones exclusively and we did more talking and texting outside of the Verizon network, I could see how paying an extra $15 might make the shared plan worthwhile.

What are your thoughts on the new Shared Plans?  Would they appeal to you or would you keep your existing plan?  I'd love to hear what you think!


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