Jun 12, 2012 11:00 AM EDT
Verizon Wireless 'Share Everything' Family Data Plans Unveiled; Rivals May Follow
Verizon Wireless is revamping its prices and offering new service plans that include unlimited calls, texts and data sharing among multiple devices, which is sure to rock the U.S. wireless industry.
The biggest U.S. mobile operator is hoping the new plans will lure customers to connect multiple gadgets to its network with the perk of avoiding paying individual data subscriptions for each device.
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Some analysts expect competitors to begin offering similar plans.
Still, the new deal includes a higher fee per gigabyte of data. But Verizon hopes that the incentive of unlimited talk and texting and the shared data element would help make the plans popular with consumers.
"What I'm doing is giving you the flexibility to share the data you've paid for," Chief Marketing Officer Tami Erwin told Reuters. "Customers who are using more than one device will very quickly see the value in this."
Today, for example, a customer might have to pay extra for going over their data usage allowance even though they may not have used their full allowance for their smartphone. With a shared plan this would not be an issue, Erwin said.
"This is really intended to drive growth. My expectation is it doesn't change our margins," she said.
Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner said he expects Verizon's biggest rival AT&T Inc. to follow suit. And AT&T has said recently that it would consider providing shared plans.
The new plan, available starting June 28, would allow a smartphone customer to pay a monthly access fee of $40 that includes unlimited calls and texts, and a fee of $60 for two gigabytes of data, which could be shared with up to 10 devices.
Today Verizon customers pay $30 for 2 gigabytes of data and $40 for the cheapest voice plan with 450 minutes of talk time and another $20 for unlimited text messages.
For a customer who needs a combined data allowance of 4 gigabytes for their tablet and their smartphone, the total fee, including voice, would still be $120 under the new plan.
Verizon Wireless customers will be able to choose to stick with the existing service plans but any new customers will be required to sign up for the shared plans from June 28 onward, even if they do not intend to connect a second device.