Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest cellphone company, says it’s dropping nearly all of its phone plans in favor of a pricing scheme that lets consumers share data usage among up to 10 phones and other devices.
In the biggest overhaul of wireless pricing in years – and one that’s likely to be copied by competitors – Verizon’s new policies will let individuals combine non-phone devices like tablets and laptops, as well as phones of family members, into a single plan.
The change takes effect June 28.
AT&T Inc. has already said it’s looking at introducing shared-data plans soon.
Verizon’s new “Share Everything” plans include unlimited phone calls and texting, and will start at $90 per month for one smartphone and 1 gigabyte of data.
Share Everything Plan details from Verizon:
• Unlimited Talk for all devices on your account. No more worries about overage charges.
• Unlimited Text for all devices on your account. Send as many text, picture and video messages as you want.
• Shareable Data for all the devices on your account. Select how much you’ll need, and then share it with up to 10 devices.
• Mobile Hotspot is included on all capable devices. Connect your device and share your data allowance with multiple Wi-Fi–enabled devices.
• Connect up to 10 devices. Choose which devices you’d like to connect, and then share your minutes, messages and data.
“Customers asked, and today Verizon Wireless delivered an industry first,” said Tami Erwin, vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless. “Share Everything Plans are the new standard for wireless service. They are simple; customers no longer have to think about their voice and message plans, because both are unlimited. Share Everything Plans are convenient; customers purchase one data plan and they share it with up to ten mobile devices. And, they are worry free; customers can connect their 3G or 4G devices wherever and whenever they want on America’s most reliable network.”
Current Verizon customers will be able to switch to the new plans or keep their old ones, with one exception. Those who have unlimited-data plans for their smartphones won’t be able to move those to new phones, unless they pay the full, unsubsidized price for those phones. (For example, an iPhone 4S that costs $200 with a two-year contract costs $650 unsubsidized, with no contract.)
Verizon stopped signing people up for unlimited-data plans last summer. The industry as a whole is moving away from the plans, since the data capacity of their networks is limited.
Under the new plans, subscribers can stop worrying about monitoring the number of calling minutes or text messages their families use in a month, but they’ll have to keep a close eye on data consumption. Verizon will allow subscribers to adjust their data allowance from month to month, but if they go over their monthly allotment, that will cost $15 per gigabyte.
The data allowances start at $50 per month for 1 gigabyte. That’s enough for prudent two-smartphone users who use Wi-Fi a lot, but Verizon recommends getting 2 gigabytes for $60. After that, each additional 2 gigabytes cost an extra $10 per month.
Under “Share Everything,” Verizon will stop charging extra for letting devices act as “mobile Wi-Fi hotspots.” That means subscribers who have a recent smartphone could use it to connect a tablet to the Internet, without paying the extra $10 per month for a tablet.
Verizon had telegraphed the move toward shared plans, but had not revealed the details or pricing.
Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of New York-based phone company Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, a British cellphone company with wide international interests.