Shared Data Plan: Verizon Has Lost Its Touch

I remember getting my first mobile phone. I couldn’t tell you the make or model, I simply remember sitting in the mall on my eighteenth birthday (that’s right, I was eighteen when I got my first phone) eating Panda Express when my parents walked up and laid that box on the table. It was exactly the model I or any other band nerd would have wanted: the kind that you can program your own ringtone.

Giving me a cellphone for my birthday that year was no one-and-done gift. As many know, you first have to buy the phone (usually not cheap) then you have to pay monthly for service (definitely not cheap). It was made possible because we had already owned an account with Verizon, and they had terrific family plans available to make things cheaper for families with multiple mobile devices. Now Verizon has announced a similar sharing plan for those with data plans. Excited, I looked into it to find out how much I’d be saving.

My family has five phones, for smartphones and one “dumb”phone on its mobile plan. The total bill comes to about $270 a month with each smartphone getting 4GB of data thanks to a promotion being run at the time, and we each pay our fair share. My cut comes to about $60. With the new plan, you can add a smartphone device for $40, and you can get 10GB for $100. Let’s compare using just the smartphones:

Current price: $240
Current data allotment: 4GB/phone, 16GB total

Proposed price: $260
Proposed data allotment: 10GB total

Now I realize the only reason we’re getting more data than this plan is because of the promotion, but seriously Verizon? The success of your old shared plan was partly based on a good portion of people who found that a phone for everyone in their household was too expensive. Now people who are on the fence about the costs of a smartphone for everyone in their household still have no reason to pull the trigger. They’re not saving a dime — turns out the people who are saving money using this plan are those who want to (legally) use their phone as a wifi device for tablets or laptops, or simply add those devices to the data plan.

I have no degree in business, nor am I keen on the models used by Verizon, but I can’t help but think that the more users they get who use a smartphone rather than a “dumb”phone, the more money Verizon will make. What the hell, Verizon?

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