Connected: New plan by Verizon not best for all
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Just when you think you've finally figured out which plans you should have for your wireless devices, Verizon Wireless changes the rules by introducing "Share Everything," a plan with which you can sign up for data to use with your smartphone and share it between all your phones -- up to 10 in all.
In general, the plan affords a better value than the plans the company had been offering previously, and for many people it may even be easier to understand. That doesn't necessarily mean it's better for you.
The whole concept of Share Everything is that if you have all your phones and other mobile devices (iPads, mobile hotspots, USB wireless connectors for laptops) on a single plan, you should be able to buy a single pot of data that you can upload and download using any device -- much like Verizon Wireless and AT&T users have been sharing voice minutes between their phones.
On the new Share Everything plans, the number of minutes you spend on the phone and number of texts you send and receive would not change your monthly cost of service. The service itself is no different than the service you've been getting -- just a different pricing structure.
To figure out what you will pay each month, count up the number of smartphones ($40 each per month), basic/"feature" phones ($30), tablets ($10) and other connected devices ($20 -- Verizon is now referring to these devices as Jetpacks).
Then figure out how much total data you'll use each month over all of these devices together. That could cost you an additional $50/month for 1GB of data to share -- up to $100/month for 10 GB, with increments for usage levels in between.
Under the new plan, your calls and texts are unlimited so you don't need to count them (although if you're comparing to your current plan, you need to know how many you use, so you have the right comparison). If you buy a plan for 10 GB to use on four smartphones and one tablet, your total would be $270 monthly. Of course, you also have to add those fees that nobody really understands, just as you always have.
The beauty of the shared data is that each person's data usage changes from month to month. One month, you might use a lot; the next month, your spouse might use a lot. So by sharing data, you can presumably have a lower total allocation between you than you'd need if you had separate limits on each device.
If you only have data devices (instead of phones), the cost of data is less ($30 for 4GB; $60 for 10 GB). I find it interesting that tablets only cost $10. Presumably, they use lots of data because you can view videos so easily and videos consume lots of data.
You don't need to go to the new plans. You can keep your old plan -- even the old unlimited plans. But when you're ready to buy a new phone, if you want to keep your old unlimited plan, the new phone would cost you more than the subsidized price you'd pay if you move to the new plans.
Verizon Wireless says data devices average between 1 GB and 2 GB monthly. You can find out your own historical usage by logging into your account or talking to a company customer service rep. You'll want to understand what you have been using before you try to figure out which of these plans is your best fit.
Next column, I'll discuss calculators made available by the company.
First Published June 24, 2012 12:00 am