Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Comparing Verizon shared data pricing


Ok so Verizon has announced its shared data pricing.  On June 28, 2012 you will now be able to share a data plan across multiple phones much like you already can share text messages or voice minutes (think like a “Family Share” plan.)

The question quickly becomes, for someone like me, that does have multiple phones on a single Family Share plan, will sharing the cost of data instead of paying for data on each phone save me money?

Here we go.

Let’s assume you have two smart phones (like an iPhone or an Android.)

On AT&T currently you would pay monthly:
$69.99 for 700 shared minutes with rollover minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 3GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 3GB of data for your second phone.

That’s a monthly cost of $159.99 and remember AT&T does not include a hotspot feature with the $30 a month data plan. 

On Verizon currently (without shared data) this same setup would look like this:
$69.98 for 700 shared minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 2GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 2GB of data for your second phone.

That’s a monthly cost of $159.98.  1¢ less than AT&T but 1GB less of data for each phone. Like AT&T, Verizon does not include a hotspot feature with the $30 a month data plan. 

Now let’s see how much Verizon with shared data will cost:
$70 for 4GB of shared data (you could go as low as 1GB for $50 but I tried to keep the plans close in data capacities)
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the first phone
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the second phone

That’s a monthly cost of $150.  A savings of just under $10 from the non-shared data plan.  And if you could drop your data to 1GB or 2GB you could save an additional $20 or $10 a month respectively.  Also it appears Verizon includes the Mobile Hotspot feature on the shared data plans which it didn’t with the non-shared data plan we chose above.

Let’s look at one other scenario that actually mimics my current phone plan:

Now let's assume you have two smartphones like an iPhone and one basic phone that has no data or texting.

On AT&T currently you would pay monthly:
$69.99 for 700 shared minutes with rollover minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 3GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 3GB of data for your second phone.
$9.99 for the non-smartphone.

That’s a monthly cost of $169.98.

On Verizon currently (without shared data) this same setup would look like this:
$69.98 for 700 shared minutes.
$30 for unlimited texting shared across all phones.
$30 for 2GB of data for your first phone.
$30 for 2GB of data for your second phone.
$9.99 for the non-smartphone.

That’s a monthly cost of $169.97.  1¢ less than AT&T but 1GB less of data for each phone.

Now let’s see how much Verizon with shared data will cost:
$70 for 4GB of shared data (you could go as low as 1GB for $50 but I tried to keep the plans close in data capacities)
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the first phone
$40 for unlimited minutes and text messages on the second phone
$30 for the non-smartphone.

That’s a monthly cost of $180.  That’s an increase of $10 from the non-shared data plan. If you could drop your data to 1GB or 2GB you could save an additional $10 or break even with the monthly cost of the non-shared data plan.  Also it appears Verizon includes the Mobile Hotspot feature on the shared data plans which it didn’t with the non-shared data plan we chose above.

So what's the conclusion here?  If you have any non-smartphones on your shared plan it will probably cost you more to go to shared data because they are increasing the cost per phone. This may encourage people to move away from basic phones and use smartphones. I'm sure Verizon would like that as they make more off of smart phones. This is also reflected in their basic phone offerings. They barely offer any basic phones and often charge $80 or more for these phones that provide little functionality outside of making and receiving calls.  However, if you have all smartphones it looks like it might save you a little money.  Interestingly the differences are around $10 a month.  Those actuaries at Verizon juggled the numbers so no matter how you arrange your plan, they make pretty much the same amount of money but did you expect anything different?

My biggest disappointment is in how much a non-data basic phone adds to the monthly fee.  With the previous Family Share plan, that line was $9.99 a month.  With the data sharing plan (and remember this basic phone won't use/cannot access the data portion of this plan) that line now costs $30 month.  Another way to look at it is currently, an additional smartphone costs $9.99 + $30 for data whereas a basic phone just adds $9.99 per month.  On the new plan a basic phone costs $30 per month whereas an additional smartphone costs only $10 more at $40 per month.  You could look at it like you pay $30 per line (as opposed to $9.99) and $10 for data (as opposed to $30.)



You can view the Verizon shared data plan details yourself here.

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