Roger Cheng argues that Verizon’s new family data sharing plan is a raw deal for singles:

As Verizon customer, I fall under the $80 plan, and rarely ever go over my calling or text message caps. I don’t particularly relish the notion of a forced “upgrade” to a $100 plan — $60 for 2GB of access and unlimited voice and text messages and a $40 access fee for a smartphone — if I move to Share Everything.

For a couple, the new share plan would cost $150 for access for two smartphones, 4GB of data, and unlimited text and voice. That’s not much different than a current share plan that comes with 700 minutes, 1,000 text messages per phone, and 2GB of data each. Current couples, however, would have to give up their unlimited data plans in exchange for unlimited voice and text messages.

Part of the problem are the high access fees for devices, which make it tough for individuals who want to sign up multiple devices under one plan. The access fee for a smartphones is $40 a month, while a basic phone is $30, and laptops, Netbooks, and mobile hotspots are $20. Even the lowest rate — $10 a month for a tablet — seems excessively high.

To me, the tablet is the only one that isn’t obscenely high. Maybe it’s because I had already read about the tablet rate and so I was expecting a ballpark of $10 instead of $40. But $40 for a smartphone? Seriously? That’s what people to pay to connect a smartphone now ($10 for the line, $30 for the data plan), and it comes with data. In this case, you’re merely asking to permission to access the local data pool. Okay, you’re asking for another line, too. But $40 is excessive all the same.

I’m sitting on a tablet that is Verizon-network ready but not connected to the network. The goal should be, I think, trying to convince me to put it on the network. Because if I do, I might have to consider a higher data plan. Back when I first heard about the data plans going up, I’d figured that I would just shell out and do it. As it stands, I am thinking that I’ll want to avoid the data plan altogether.

Whether the new plan would save us money or cost us money depends on our data usage. If I assume more usage, it’s actually cheaper for me to add $40 to the bill by adding the tablet than it would be to switch to a family plan and add it for $10. I don’t think that’s a calculation that serves Verizon well.

Farhad Manjoo offers the following suggestion:

Now that Verizon has made its dumb pricing move, it’s time for AT&T or another competitor to offer something groundbreaking—what I imagine to be the perfect wireless plan. Here’s how it would work: First, you select a data tier. That’s it.

You wouldn’t pay extra for texts, voice calls, and for additional devices. You’d pay just for the amount of data you use—the more you use, the more you pay. This plan is simple, fair, and—depending on the price of data—it could save a lot of people a lot of money. Over the long run, this plan would be a boon to any wireless carrier that rolled it out. It would bring in more customers with more devices, and—as all those people spend more time using their various mobile devices over the next few years—the network would cash in. The only problem with this plan is that it’s so transparent and customer-friendly that it’s hard to imagine there’s any wireless company forward-thinking enough to consider it. Especially not AT&T.

Like Manjoo, I really think that the goal should be to bring as many devices into the network as possible. It would encourage people to use more data, which in turn would make them more money. In that sense, I actually like Verizon’s decision and hope that it becomes a norm. The longer I keep the tablet off their network, the more money I save.


Category: Market

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