Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, is overhauling its service plans, replacing them with a new set that allows multiple devices to share a bucket of data.
The new Share Everything plans, available on June 28, will raise prices for data users but include unlimited voice minutes and text, as well as a capped data allotment for up to 10 devices. For new customers, these plans will replace the current tiered-pricing plans that charge based on the amount of voice minutes and data consumed.
AT&T will introduce device-sharing plans later this year. T-Mobile says it's not switching to such plans because customers should "have the option of only paying for the amount of data each member of the family" needs. Sprint says data-sharing plans "significantly increase the potential of a surprise monthly bill due to data overage charges."
Smartphone users will have to pay more in Verizon's new plans. A customer opting for the cheapest data bucket, 1 gigabyte, will pay $90 before taxes and fees ($40 for phone access and $50 for 1 GB). The cheapest data plan available now for a smartphone costs $70.
The new data allotments come in six buckets, ranging from $50 for 1 GB to $100 for 10 GB. And customers can add a basic phone, laptop and tablet to share data for $30, $20 and $10, respectively. The Mobile Hotspot service, which turns the phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot router, is free.
The cheapest price for voice-only customers remains largely unchanged. Verizon will sell two packages for those who use little to no data -- a $40 plan (700 minutes, 20-cents-a-text and no data) and an $80 plan (300 MB of data and unlimited voice and text).
Options available will depend on your customer status as of June 28.
A new customer must select an option in the Share Everything plan or either of the two voice-centric packages ($40 or $80).
A tiered-pricing plan customer can upgrade by selecting a Share Everything plan or an existing tiered plan.
An unlimited data customer must also choose either a Share Everything plan or a tiered plan when upgrading. Verizon dropped the $30-a-month unlimited plan for new customers last year, but those who already had it were allowed to keep it.
The moves reflect shifting consumer habits. Fewer calls are made, while videos and audio take up much of the carriers' capacity. "They're giving you more of what you don't want, which is voice," says Rich Karpinski, an analyst at Yankee Group.
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