Families with a number of data intensive devices may be able to get a break on monthly charges beginning later this month, as Verizon has officially announced shared data plans. The company will roll out its new Share Everything plan on June 28.
The new plan features unlimited minutes and unlimited texting, with differing charges mainly based on the amount of data shared between devices. You can have up to 10 devices on a single account, from any mix of basic (read: non-smart) phones, smartphones, tablets, and other devices, such as USB modems.
You'll still have to pay a flat Monthly Line Access fee per device, with the exact amount depending on the nature of the device: $40 for smartphones, $30 for basic phones, $10 for tablets, and $20 for non-tablet devices.
Data plans start at 1GB for $50 per month, rising to 2GB for $60, 4GB for $70, 6GB for $80, 8GB for $90, and 10GB for $100. On the upside, you'll now get tethering included along with your data plan for free, instead of having to pay an extra $20 per month.
To help customers make a decision, Verizon is providing an online data calculator: Enter the number of devices of various types that you use, and the tool will suggest which data plan is right for you.
Users who depend only on tablets or other data devices like notebooks, computers, or USB modems can also purchase data-only plans with the same monthly access fees, but slightly cheaper data pools, starting at 4GB for $30 per month, and going up $10 for every additional 2GB.
In addition, Verizon is offering two Share Everything plans for basic phones: one with 700 minutes of talk time for $40 per month and one with unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, and 300MB of shared data for $70 per month.
While the new plans are not required for Verizon customers, the carrier is clearly pushing users towards them--existing customers can switch to the plan without paying a fee or extending contract terms. However, the carrier also notes that users who currently have unlimited data plans will lose that option should they switch to the new plans.
The emphasis on data over voice minutes shows a shift under way for the entire wireless carrier industry, as smartphones start to become more and more popular. Data has become a larger commodity for mobile device users, as they become less concerned with the amount of talk time available. AT&T executives have also mentioned recently that the company would be investigating shared data plans.
As to whether or not the shared data plans are a good deal, it depends greatly on the amount of usage for your household. Individuals with only a couple of devices may not find it quite as beneficial as families with many devices--but given that that's the way that many customers seem to be moving, it's a logical move for the carriers to refocus on how consumers are using their devices now.