on Tuesday rolled out a new twist on data packages: Share Everything Plans. Verizon is suggesting that its model will change the way consumers purchase wireless services.
Share Everything Plans include unlimited voice minutes, unlimited text, video and picture messaging and a single data allowance for up to 10 Verizon Wireless devices. Verizon is also offering a Mobile Hotspot service on all the devices at no additional charge. The plans debut June 28 and are available to anyone.
Tami Erwin, vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, said "customers no longer have to think about their voice and message plans, because both are unlimited." But is there a catch? There may be.
The Plan Specs
Here's how it works: Customers select the devices they want on their Share Everything Plans account. Next, they choose a plan that includes unlimited minutes, unlimited messages and a shared data allowance that begins at 1 GB for $50.
The pricing essentially runs in $10 increments. For example, 2 GB is $60; 4 GB is $70; 6 GB is $80; 8 GB is $90; and 10 GB is $100. Customers can also add a tablet to their Share Everything Plans for an additional $10, with no long-term contract requirement. Customers can add notebooks and netbooks for $20 a month.
"When developing these plans, we first asked customers what they wanted in a wireless service plan. We also looked at the technology and how customers were using it to manage their lives. And last, we took into consideration the evolution of the technology and how customers would use wireless in the future," Erwin added. "Share Everything Plans are the outcome of that research."
Here's the (Potential) Catch
We talked to Weston Henderek, principal analyst at Current Analysis, to get his take on the new plans and what they really mean for consumers. He told us there are pros and cons to the Share Everything Plans, depending on which end of the data usage spectrum you sit.
"Say each member of your family has 2 GB of data and one of you used a lot more data than 2 GB. Under the current plan, you'd have to pay an overage fee even if the other members didn't use their full buckets. The new plan is a more efficient way of using data because it's crossing over to other devices," Henderek said. "The catch here is that it looks like smartphone customers are going to be forced to buy this type of plan, which means you are going to have to commit to unlimited voice and unlimited messaging, which comes standard with this offering."
If that assumption is true, it's bad news for low-range customers, who would most likely have to pay more on the new plans. New customers signing up for Verizon will also have fewer options. The big winners are heavy data users with multiple lines.
"Verizon is essentially commoditizing voice and messaging. It's about data," Henderek said. "By commoditizing voice and messaging it allows Verizon to start at a higher pricing tier and it takes away a lot of the concerns over the free third-party messaging options that [customers] are downloading from app stores that are cutting into carrier messaging revenues."