To the dismay of millions of loyal customers, Verizon announced its Share Everything plans last week, which will launch next Thursday. Marking the end of grandfathered unlimited data plans and replacing the generic, minute-based family plans we've grown comfortable with over the years, Share Everything will introduce unlimited minute and messaging bundles for users, alongside buckets of tiered data that all users (up to 10) on a single account will share. And if Verizon has its way, "Everyone will be on data share" at some point in the future.
To be fair, Share Everything isn't the worst deal I could have imagined. For $40 per line, per month and data buckets that start at $50 per month for 1GB and go up to 10GB for $100 per month, the plans can actually benefit a narrow scope of users by saving them some cash each month. But, as far as I can tell, more people are upset with Share Everything than those who aren't. So far, I've only come across a few who praise or welcome the new plans.
I, for one, have voiced my distaste with Verizon over the pending rate changes in a semi-emotional rant about Big Red pulling the unlimited data rug out from under my feet and shoving more of the stuff I don't want – minutes and overpriced text messages – down my throat. Share Everything comes at the expense of choice, and Verizon has made it almost impossible for a data-centric user to stay on their network without spending preposterous amounts of money each month, mostly on things they probably don't want in the first place.
Considering I don't use over 100 minutes per month between my (shared) 1,400 minutes on Verizon and 450 on AT&T, I can get by with minimal minutes. And now that I have almost completely replaced carrier messaging (I still text some on the family plan since some people are stubborn and can't text the right number) with Google Voice, I no longer need SMS at all.
So now I sit at a four-way crossroad. When it comes time for my upgrade next month, I can choose to do one of four things:
No matter what I do, sooner or later, I'm going to lose unlimited data. Even if I purchase phones no-contract and spend oodles of extra money to keep the grandfathered plan, it will all be in vain as soon as my mother makes her move. So, oddly enough, the last option seems like it may be the best choice for me.
I have been mulling over going prepaid for some time now, but only as a secondary or third line option. However, seeing as my unlimited data has an expiration date, I have nothing holding me back from exploring different options. I haven't made my final decision, as that still hinges on what my family can work out. But getting our own accounts has been a long time coming. And come July or August, I think I'm going to dive into the prepaid pool headfirst and port the number I've had since I was 14 wherever I go.
Prepaid is somewhat bittersweet, though. Device selections are hit or miss, as are network options.
For only $30 per month plus the no-contract price of the iPhone 4S, I could have an iPhone on Virgin Mobile with 300 minutes, unlimited text and "unlimited" data (2.5GB under Virgin's fair use policy). This one has been rolling around in my head a lot lately, especially considering I can just sell the Verizon iPhone 4S I have to offset the majority of the $649 bill for the Virgin Mobile iPhone.
Then again, Virgin Mobile uses Sprint's 3G and WiMAX networks. And the iPhone is not capable of utilizing WiMAX, meaning it will only use Sprint's 3G network for data. To be frank, Sprint's 3G network has seen better days. (I am constantly seeing a lot of users complaining about terrible 3G data speeds on Sprint and various MNVOs that operate through Sprint.) No less, this is an option worth exploring.
I could also pop a Straight Talk SIM card in one of my existing unlocked phones and enjoy AT&T's 3G and HSPA+ networks (there's no AT&T LTE here anyway, so I wouldn't be missing much). For $45 per month, I would be getting "unlimited" talk, text and data. (Unlimited in this instance should be taken with a grain of salt due to fair use policies.)
For me, I believe the best option is to trade my Verizon iPhone 4S for an unlocked AT&T one and port my number to Straight Talk. I may port my original number to Google Voice instead, I'm not sure. I don't know specifics yet; I still have some time to weigh my options. But prepaid is looking better and better every day, and Straight Talk seems to be the most flexible offer.
Are there any of you considering going prepaid now that postpaid is getting more expensive by the moment? Have any of you gone prepaid already. If so, how is it working out? Share your story in the comments below!