Verizon Share Everything plans: what you need to know

June 13, 2012
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Roughly a full month ago, Verizon was announcing that they will soon start pushing a new data share plan, one that will allow multiple users to connect multiple devices that all draw from a single bucket/pool of data. Fortunately for those of us eager to learn more about how this data share plan will actually work, Big Red has disclosed yesterday the full details regarding the new Verizon Share Everything family plan for phone calls, text messages and data usage.

Verizon’s Share Everything Fees & Structure

Verizon’s Share Everything data plan – available starting June 28 – is probably one of the most dynamic plans ever offered by a mobile carrier. The principle behind is quite simple: multiple users and devices all draw from a common bucket of data. The actual structure though, might give you a slight headache at first. Hopefully, the following explanation will act as a virtual painkiller that should allow you to see Verizon’s “Share Everything” data plan in more neutral lighting conditions.

The Share Everything Bucket

First of all, what you should know is that all versions of the Share Everything plan will allow for unlimited calls and text messages. When it comes to the size of the data pool, there are 6 versions of the monthly plan than you can choose from:

– $50 for 1GB of data
– $60 for 2GB of data ($30 per GB)
– $70 for 4GB of data ($17.5 pe GB)
– $80 for 6GB of data ($13.3 per GB)
– $90 for 8GB of data ($11.25 per GB)
– $100 for 10GB of data ($10 per GB)

When approaching the cap, Verizon will automatically send out alerts to all devices, and allow you to pay $10 extra for 2GB of additional data. If you go over the limit but did not pre-purchase additional data volumes (you can do that from Verizon’s website), you will be charged $15 for each GB of data you’ve used.

This is the point where we reach what I like to call “the oddity of Verizon’s Share Everything plan”. If you go for a $50 plan and then purchase an additional 2GB for $10 (remember that you need to pre-purchase the extra 2GB before you reach your cap or you’ll have to pay $15 for each GB over the cap), you’ll end up paying $60 for 3GB, a whole GB better than what you get for choosing the $60 plan from the start. Verizon did not specifically mention if you’ll be able to purchase additional data once you’ve gone through your first 2GB for $10 batch, but I’m guessing you can re-fill the bucket only once.

This trick won’t get you anywhere when juggling with other plans, although you can use it as a safety measure in the sense that if you’re undecided whether you need 4GB or 6GB tops, the best option would be to go for a 4GB plan and then add the extra 2GB only in your heavy traffic months.

The Share Everything Straws

Now that you’ve decided upon the size of the bucket, you obviously need the straws to collect data from the bucket. According to Verizon’s terms, you can connect a maximum number of 10 straws to a bucket, used by a maximum number of 10 people (duh!).

Unfortunately, Verizon has decided not to apply the same fee for all possible straws. Instead, with the Share Everything plan, each month you’ll have to pay an extra:

– $40 for each connected smartphone
– $30 for each phone
– $20 for each hot spot, notebook, netbook or USB Modem
– $10 for each tablet

As it’s more than obvious from the “straw fees” listed above, the Share Everything plan from Verizon aims to encourage the adoption of 3G and 4G tablets, as well as Verizon hot-spots. Verizon has admitted that the new plan might be more expensive for some individuals, but if you’re willing to share a plan with the members of your family (chances are that they aren’t all high data consumers), the Share Everything plan might be exactly what you need.

The Family Example

Let’s say that you own a smartphone and a tablet, your wife and your daughter each own a feature phone, and your son owns a smartphone. Assuming that you’ve decided that 6GB of data are enough, the overall monthly cost will be calculated this way:

– $80 for the 6GB of data
– $40 x 2 = $80 for connecting the two smartphones
– $30 x 2 = $60 for connecting the two feature phones (that don’t regularly use too much data)
– $10 for the tablet

Overall, you’ll end up paying $230 for unlimited calls and text messages on the two smartphones and the two feature phones, as well as 6GB of data that will be shared between the two smartphones and the tablet. For comparison, if you decide to go for single-line unlimited calls, you’ll end up paying nearly $280 for the two smartphones and the two feature phones. Add $20 for unlimited text on each of the 4 lines and $30 each for 2GB on both smartphones and the tablet, and the overall cost would be nearly double.

The Solitary Geek Example

But what if you own just a single smartphone and have no desire to share a plan? The old plans required you to spend $70 for unlimited calls, $20 for unlimited texts, and $80 for 10GB of data, pushing the entire sum to $170.

With Verizon’s new Share Everything plan, you’ll have to pay only $100 for 10GB and unlimited calls & text, plus an additional $40 for connecting the smartphone. Overall, you’ll pay $140: not a lot less each month but added for the entire 24-month contract, it will save you more than $700, and that’s more than the price for a top-end unlocked smartphone. Neat, huh?

Granted, if you make no use out of unlimited calls and text, that’s when the Verizon Share Everything plan starts showing its shortcomings but, hey… nothing is perfect, right?

The details and the fine print

To provide an even better idea of what’s to come on June 28, here’s a leaked internal training slide, courtesy of Droid-Life

verizon wireless share everything plans

Unlimited Data vs Share Everything

Unfortunately, June 28 – the same day that Verizon’s Share Everything plan will become available – will also mark a sad day for all Verizon users who have grandfathered into an unlimited data plan. Although Verizon will not discontinue your unlimited data plan (they can’t due to legal terms), the catch is that you’ll be forced to switch to a capped data plan when upgrading to a new subsidized smartphone. The only way you’ll be able to keep your unlimited data plan is to purchase an unsubsidized smartphone. According to Tami Erwin, chief marketing officer of Verizon Wireless, “Unlimited data is not something that we think is sustainable in the long run”.

Verizon’s main competitor, AT&T took a much more unfriendly measure back in March 2012 when it has announced that users who have grandfathered into an unlimited data plan (which stopped being available to new users in 2010) will experience reduced data transfer rates once they eat trough their first 3GB. In this context, it will be interesting to see AT&T’s response to Verizon’s Share Everything data plan, especially since Ralph de la Vega (CEO for AT&T) announced that they are also working on a shared data plan concept.

On the other hand, going from $30 for unlimited data to $50/GB in one year is a shocker, no matter how you look at it. I am sure that the comments to this post will reflect that.

Conclusion

From where I’m standing, there are three things that are now clear after analyzing the Share Everything plan. First, as Verizon officials themselves claimed, the Share Everything data plan brings a lot of much needed simplicity to data and voice plans, especially for those of you willing to share a single bill amongst multiple users. Second, as Tami Erwin said, “We believe that the announcement of this pricing will fuel an ecosystem of devices”. Third, it’s obvious that carriers are finally accepting that their future is in data, and that voice and text are just apps that run over data networks.

What are your opinions on the new shared data plan from Verizon? I’m also guessing there are a lot of unlimited data users who aren’t exactly proud of being a Verizon user right about now. Just drop us a comment and let us know what you think!

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