Does every member of your family use a smartphone? Or do you access the Net on the run with several devices -- say, a tablet, a phone and a Wi-Fi USB dongle? Up until now, the major cellular carriers have required each separate device to carry a data plan of its own, and at roughly $30/month each for a basic plan, that adds up quickly.
Earlier this month, however, Verizon announced it was rolling out new "Share Everything" plans on June 28th, which lets customers buy a monthly bucket of data along with unlimited calls and texting. Up to 10 devices can sip from the centralized pool. Sounds good. But will Verizon's Share Everything plans actually save you money? Well, that depends.
Verizon Share Everything pricing structure
First, let's take a peek at what the Share Everything plans cost. Remember that all include unlimited talk and text, as well as free tethering/wireless hotspot capabilities for devices that support the feature. If you're in danger of hitting your cap, you can add an extra 2 GB of data to your plan for $10. Be warned, if you don't stay on top of your data usage, you'll be slapped with a $15 per GB overage charge.
|Verizon Share Everything plans||Price|
|1 GB||$50 per month|
|2 GB||$60 per month|
|4 GB||$70 per month|
|6 GB||$80 per month|
|8 GB||$90 per month|
|10 GB||$100 per month|
If the central bucket was the only cost associated with Share Everything, the plans would be an unquestionable value. Each device you connect to the plan (including the first device) adds an additional monthly fee, however, with the cost depending on the type of device:
|Tablet||$10 per month|
|3G/4G-enabled hotspot or USB modem||$20 per month|
|Notebook||$20 per month|
|Basic cellphone||$30 per month|
|Smartphone||$40 per month|
So is Share Everything cheaper than existing Verizon plans?
As is often the case, it really depends on your situation, but we've crunched a lot of numbers from several hypothetical scenarios and one theme kept consistently emerging. If you're already on a Verizon single-line plan or Family SharePlan with unlimited texting and calling, the new packages will definitely save you money. People with lots of cellular data-enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets, will also benefit.
On the other hand, subscribers who have lower cost plans with limited calling and messaging will likely pay a bit extra -- sometimes quite a bit extra -- under a Share Everything plan with a comparable data allowance.
That's important to consider before making the switch: sure, the Share Everything Plans include unlimited calling, but how much time do you really spend chatting on the phone, anyway?
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that cellular subscribers have been making fewer and fewer voice calls every year since the launch of the original iPhone. "The rub for carriers is that voice billings still account for about two-thirds of what they charge cellphone customers every month," the publication said.
One way to counteract that effect? Switching subscribers over to higher-priced unlimited calling plans like Share Everything. Before you make the jump, do your research and make sure a switch makes sense for you, not just for Verizon.
Unlimited data subscribers get no love
Verizon discontinued unlimited data plans last summer, but allowed people who were already on the plans to stay on them, if so desired. Unlimited subscribers were even able to re-up their unlimited plans come renewal time.
If you look at the Share Everything Plans, there's no real incentive for subscribers to give up their unlimited data plans. Going from $30/month per line for unlimited data to a plan that starts at $50/month for just 1 GB of shared data -- plus an additional $40/month per-phone charge -- is flat-out bad math, especially when unlimited data subscribers can also sign up for low-cost Family text and voice plans.
So Verizon decided to sour the pot a bit.
Starting June 28 -- the same day the Share Everything plans take effect -- terms will change for those grandfathered-in unlimited data subscribers. If you're one of those subscribers and you purchase a new, subsidized phone at renewal time, you'll have to give up your unlimited data plan and switch to a tiered data plan. The only way to keep your data free-flowing is to either keep your current phone or pay the full retail price of a new phone -- which ranges from around $400 and up for many current smartphones to north of $700 for flagship models.
You don't have to switch, though
Verizon's existing plans will still be available after Share Everything goes live, so if your current contract makes better fiscal sense, you'll be able to keep it. Our cellphone plans report contains yet more options. See our blog post on smartphone data plans to see how you can keep track of your data usage.
Are you going to make the jump to a Share Everything plan?