As I wrote back in January, while family voice and text bundles have long been mainstays of the American wireless world, the concept of including data in that sort of family plan is relatively new, with many wireless carriers brainstorming ways of how they could offer data savings to families while still making money on one of the most lucrative aspects of the mobile market.
Yesterday, veritable wireless pioneer Verizon rocked the wireless world by unveiling its long awaited ‘Share Everything’ plan (available June 28th), a revolution in the wireless industry that will see Family plans now include a shared bucket of data in addition to the usual voice and text features.
When the notion was first bandied about earlier this year, Verizon framed it as a win-win scenario for the company and its customers, offering increased value to families, but as one might expect from a company that just revolutionized its greatest revenue stream, the new era of the family plan is a big win for Verizon, but less of a win for customers (particuarly individual customers) looking to save money.
I have to admit that when it comes to speculation in the tech and telecom worlds, I’m wrong more than I’m right, but when I wrote about the potential downside of Verizon’s concept for a “Share Everything” plan back in January, I think I hit the nail on the head. At the time Verizon advertised its new concept as a win-win situation, Verizon wins because family plans encourage users to sign up more devices, while families have the potential to win because they save a little the more devices they use.
“Not one known for helping out its customers with an over-abundance of savings, I do have to wonder how Verizon will turn a family data bundle into a win for itself—as I’m sure it truly cares little for helping its customers win anything—and the one aspect that immediately comes to my mind is data overages.”
As it stands, Verizon’s pricing is as follows: “A $50 monthly plan comes with 1 gigabyte of data to be shared between devices. For $60 a month, you get 2GB, while $70 gets 4GB, $80 gets 6GB, $90 gets 8GB, and $100 gets 10GB.” In addition, CNET’s Roger Cheng explains, “there are fees related to each device. There’s a monthly charge of $40 for each smartphone; $30 for each phone; $20 for a hot spot, USB modem, notebook, or netbook; and $10 for a tablet.”
So here’s how Verizon’s scheme works: First, the company has cancelled all unlimited data service contracts for those wanting to upgrade to a new phone or plan. Second, Verizon has stopped offering tiered talk and text plans, making unlimited talk and text the only thing is offers. Third, it ties in a paltry data allotment in this bundle, and finally, it charges each customer a little more for its plans, plus a fee for each device used. So the question is, where do the savings come in?
As I guessed several months ago, for those who are stingy with their data use, there will of course be some savings available (or else it wouldn’t really be a bundle at all) for families with multiple smartphones on the go. But of course with only a few GB of data available between multiple devices, Verizon is counting on the savings being recouped by customers paying extra to expand their data limit, or fining them for data overages.
Couple that with Verizon now making unlimited talk and text the order of the day– whether you want it or not—charging more for a service that fewer and fewer of us are using in this mobile data era, and what we have here is a “Share Everything” plan that gives you lots of what you don’t need, and very little of what you do.