Today Verizon announced their “Share Everything” plans that they hinted at a few weeks back at an investor’s conference. These new plans will be effective June 28 and with their implementation, customers choosing to upgrade their phones will have their grandfathered unlimited data plan cut. That’s right, people enjoying their unlimited 4G LTE will no longer have that luxury after June 28 if they upgrade their phone. Verizon’s definition of upgrade is when they subsidize the price, so buying a phone for full price off-contract is one way to avoid losing an unlimited data plan. Verizon customers looking to grandfather their unlimited data plan forevermore and looking to take advantage of an eligible upgrade will have to buy a Samsung Galaxy S3 before the cutoff date. It’s not a bad phone by any means if you are looking to upgrade one last time.
PSA: If you currently have unlimited data, you will have to buy phones off-contract from now on or you will lose your unlimited data plan when you purchase a new subsidized phone!
What the chart above doesn’t mention is that the “Share Everything” plan requires $40 for every smartphone, $30 for every basic phone, $20 for a hotspot, and $10 for every tablet (up to 10 devices total). At least tethering and creating a hotspot will not be a separate fee under these plans.
Okay, we got the important PSA out of the way and added the additional fees involved, so now we can move on to looking at this “Share Everything” plan. Off the bat we see 1. Unlimited Voice and Text Messaging. Well, that’s nice… I guess that is one less thing to worry about counting. It seems to be a pretty good deal since I currently pay $69.99 for one smartphone and one feature phone with 700 minutes and another $10 for 500 text messages (plus in-network texting, which is the main appeal for me). The $40 for one smartphone and $30 for one basic phone already matches that price but with unlimited voice and text.
However, let’s move on to the data plans. $50 for 1 GB of data? Are they kidding? Single users can get 2 GB of data for $30 or 4 GB of data for $30 with their promotions. Let’s be honest: everyone will probably need more than 1 GB of data; especially on a shared data plan. Unless all you’re doing is checking e-mail and such, in which case $50 for 1 GB of data is even more ridiculous. YouTube, Skype, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services that use a lot of data will be completely useless – let’s not even think about the scenario with teens who consume media wantonly over a network. While the 10 GB for $100 gives the “best deal” at $10 per GB, which still falls shy of the $7.50 per GB with the promotion, it is quite a bit of money.
When I first heard about “Shared Data Plans,” I was hopeful that this would give Verizon the opportunity to finally restructure their data plan pricing structure and provide their customers with a good value for an information heavy age. This includes cheaper plans for people who don’t need a data plan but want to have a smartphone. Ideally, I would like to see something like this for family data plans:
$30 for 4 GB; $50 for 8 GB; $70 for 12 GB; $100 for 20 GB; and a $150 for Unlimited with throttling after 50 GB.
Individual plans would then be reworked to offer something similar:
$10 for 1 GB; $15 for 2 GB; $30 for 4 GB; $50 for 8 GB; $70 for Unlimited with throttling after 25 GB.
This was a huge missed opportunity for Verizon. Customers were already complaining about the data pricing after the unlimited plans were done away with. Instead of making data more affordable, Verizon made data prohibitively more expensive; especially for families on this shared everything plan.
There’s no doubt that the future is data. The internet continues to become a larger part of our daily lives and mobile is increasingly becoming a part of it as well. These two trends combined show a high demand for mobile data. Perhaps it’s simply a “smart” business decision for Verizon and other carriers to capitalize on this trend. However, I fear the carriers by limited mobile data is also holding us back from this future because it will be too expensive to consume on the go. Instead of a future where we embrace Skype calling/video calling/messaging, Google Voice for calls and texts, and GTalk for messages, we are continuing down the road of 3G voice and standard SMS although carriers are looking at Voice Over LTE in the future (and T-Mobile has Voice over WiFi).
Part of this is because carriers are afraid of these alternatives to their services. Instead of embracing them and evolving, they rather cling to their current business model. AT&T’s CEO spoke about how iOS’s iMessage system brought competition to their SMS service and how he wished he implemented tiered data plans before the release of the first iPhone. This is a classic example of carriers holding on to their current strategy.
Customers do not have very many options for carriers (especially now with most of them building tiered data plans and smaller networks with no access to LTE in the future unless the FCC grants shared use of the 700 MHz spectrum), so they are unfortunately subject to these conditions. Some disgruntled customers will inevitably attempt to take their business elsewhere. To those people, I wish them the best and that they choose the right carrier with the right coverage and support – not just in the short term, but in the long term. As for me, I’ll be sticking with Verizon for now and buying my phones off contract to keep my grandfathered unlimited data plan.
What do you guys think about Verizon’s new “Share Everything” plans? Anyone thinking about diving into them? AT&T won’t be far behind with their own announcement of “Share Everything.”