Back in June, Verizon introduced its new plans. Unlike the Nationwide Talk Family SharePlans of years past, Share Everything switches the focus away from voice calls and instills data usage as the staple in your monthly wireless bill.
With Share Everything, customers first choose the number of devices that will be on the plan – monthly access fees range from $10 per month for a tablet to $40 for a smartphone – then choose how much data is sufficient for the number of devices, collectively. Data packages range from 1GB for $50 each month to 20GB for $150 per month, which seems rather steep until you consider they also include unlimited minutes and text messaging.
Depending on the size of your family and how much data they can consume in a billing period, Share Everything can certainly save some money. That said, the true savings will add up over time – $20 or $30 less per month will save you from $480 to $720 over a two-year period.
Still, Share Everything comes at a much greater cost to some individuals. When Verizon first announced Share Everything, they announced they would come at the expense of grandfathered unlimited data plans. Individuals who choose to sign a two-year agreement with Verizon moving forward will have to agree to sign away unlimited data … forever.
Immediately after the announcement, I started scheming. I'm positive I wasn't the only one, too. My mother called me the next day asking how she could keep her unlimited data. The plan was to switch to a 4G LTE device and continue buying phones no-contract until Verizon offered a sweeter deal. Verizon soon confirmed that buying phones no-contract would allow customers to keep their existing plans, including grandfathered unlimited data.
I also explored the idea of switching away from Verizon to prepaid. I did oodles of research and even used Straight Talk for a little over a month before I decided the prepaid route is just not ready for heavy data users … yet. That ship will sail another day.
In the end, I succumbed to Big Red's tiered data – not Share Everything. The iPhone 5 was announced and pre-orders opened two nights later. I've been closely following my data usage on the iPhone 4S for several months now and decided I can settle for paying a little more money each month. I didn't go easy, though. I was kicking and screaming the whole way. And I'm still not looking forward to activating the iPhone 5 later today. I will officially be signing away unlimited data on Verizon for good, and that is pretty depressing.
This, I figure, is the process many individuals and families went through when upgrading on Verizon over the last three months. Lots of internal debates and an eventual, reluctant switch.
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo would have us believe a different story, however. Yesterday, he spoke at the Goldman Sachs conference. CNET reports Shammo explained that many customers are signing up for Share Everything and even adding more devices to their plans. Verizon is actually surprised by the adoption rate. Shammo also noted that Verizon is surprised by how many customers are tossing unlimited data to switch to Share Everything. Shammo says:
"So what customers are understanding and through our good sales routine is once you explain to a customer their usage on a monthly basis, unlimited is just a word, it doesn’t really mean anything and that people don’t really — I think a lot of consumers think they consume a lot more data than they really do. So that whole unlimited thing I think is going by the wayside and they see the benefit of going to the shared."
There is some oversight by Shammo and Verizon, however. Like, for instance, the fact that Verizon is all but forcing customers to switch to Share Everything. Had my mother upgraded her line, our entire family would have switched to Share Everything.
Despite the fact that my mother only uses roughly 100MB per month (and I have pointed this out to her more than once), she will do just about anything to keep her old plan. She wanted an 64GB iPhone 5 and was willing to pay $849 for one no-contract. And I whole-heartedly believe she would have had she been able to and had I not found a better, much cheaper option. My step-father is in the same boat and is waiting until he can purchase an iPhone 5 no-contract.
Do the math, my mother and step-father were willing to pay upwards of $1,700 just to keep their unlimited data. I can't imagine they're the only ones either. But I also can't imagine everyone is willing or, more importantly, able to pay the full retail pricing just to keep unlimited data. Then it's a decision between tiered data and Share Everything. Even then, it's a no-brainer, switch to Share Everything and save at least a little money and get unlimited minutes, texting and possibly even more data than before.
AT&T also announced shared data plans called Mobile Share in July. Unlike Verizon, AT&T is allowing customers to keep their current plans and simply adding to the value. Those upgrading to the iPhone 5 were able to keep their unlimited data. Verizon may be excited over the apparent success of Share Everything. But rest assured few customers are. And I'm willing to bet the adoption of Mobile Share tells a largely different story than Share Everything, mainly because customers are offered a choice between keeping unlimited, switching to tiered data or switching to shared data.
It can't be put any more boldly than how David Beren of TmoNews put it:
"Shammo is right in some sense that most people don’t need an unlimited plan, and that it’s a false sense of security. The thing is, for power users, who are far to often the loudest voice among wireless customers, unlimited data is a necessity and Sprint and T-Mobile are willing to fulfill that need Verizon now choose to push to the 'wayside.'
Still, I can’t help but feel Shammo is telling us that we don’t understand how we use data, only Verizon does so we’re just going to tell you what to think about it and never sell you an unlimited plan again."
I'm not switching to tiered data because I learned I don't use as much as I thought I did. I'm curbing my usage so I don't pay an arm and a leg, which is apparently exactly what Big Red wants. The road ahead, as Verizon would have it, is without unlimited data. They're painting a very bleak future for us heavy data users.
What about you, ladies and gents? Did you willingly switch to Share Everything. (I would be a fool not to see it benefits some customers.) Or are you hanging on to unlimited data with everything you've got? Did you just switch to a tiered plan instead? Share you data-lovin' sentiments below!