Ever feel confused while staring at your cell phone bill? Of course you have. Even I’ve found myself scratching my head looking at bills for my family’s four phones, three tablets and two mobile hotspots. In an interview this week, Verizon Wireless Director of Pricing Steve Mesnick said the company spoke to over 50,000 customers and they all want the same thing from their mobile plan: simplicity. They want all their devices on one, easy to understand bill. Data is an area where consumers are especially confused, says Mesnick. They want to be able to use their data however they want and whenever they want. And so, Verizon came up with the Share Everything plan, which aims to stop the madness that comes with the growing number of devices owned by individuals and families. Sounds good to me. Let’s take a look at the details to see if Verizon has accomplished its goal.
Here’s how it works: You are charged two ways in Share Everything. Each month, you’ll pay for line sharing and line access. Let’s talk about line sharing first. Like many current Verizon plans, all Share Everything plans come with unlimited voice, minutes and messages across all devices. The difference is, now data is shared across devices as well. So on an old plan you might have a Blackberry with a 1GB data cap, a tablet with a 2GB data cap and iPhone with a 2GB data cap and they are all considered separate. On the new plan, you’d choose the 6GB plan to share between all three devices. Your iPhone can suck up over 4GBs of data while your Blackberry and tablet share the last 2GB and you won’t be charged extra. You can add up to ten devices per account and data is available for purchase between 1-10GB at a cost between $50-$100.
Now onto line access. Different kinds of devices will cost different amounts. A smartphone is the most expensive at $40, followed by basic phones for $30, jetpacks/USBs/Notebooks/Netbooks for $20 and tablets round out the list at $10. Take the example of the iPhone, Blackberry and tablet above. For those three devices, you’d pay a line access fee of $90/month. Add the 5GB data plan and you’re looking at a total monthly bill of $170 plus taxes.
Those are the basics of the new Share Everything plan. Here are a few questions you might be asking yourself:
Can I keep my current plan?
Yes. Current Verizon customers will not be forced into Share Everything and won’t see any price changes in their current plan. New customers will be asked to join the new plan. Customers who have the Unlimited Data plan may keep it as long as they don’t purchase a subsidized phone when they upgrade.
Are there charges if you use more than the amount of data allowed in your plan?
Yes. You will be charged $15 for each additional GB added per month. You will also be given the option to change your plan at any time during the month. So rather than paying $15 for an extra GB, you can move from the 6GB plan to the 8GB plan for an extra $10 per month.
Verizon will also send each device on the plan usage alert by text or email at 50%, 75%, 90% and 100%. It also makes it easy for customers to see the breakdown of data usage by device by mobile app, web and text.
Is Share Everything available for small businesses?
Yes. Verizon is also working on plans that allow for more than ten lines for larger businesses.
Can I keep my corporate discount?
Yes. If you are currently receiving a discount from your employer, you will continue to receive the same percentage off the account access portion of your bill.
Will there still be an extra charge for tethering?
No. Tethering is allowed on all Share Everything plans at no extra charge.
I did some math and if I switched to the Share Everything plan today, my bill would come out about the same. Whether or not you switch depends on the devices you own and how much data you use. Now you’re probably asking yourself, “But wait! How much data do I use?” Verizon has a neat little tool to help you figure it out, so go forth unafraid.