“Shareable Data” – wait, what?
If you’re wondering what’s going on with your Verizon plan as of late, you’re not the only one. Starting June 28th, Verizon has effectively ended its unlimited data plan, even for grandfathered users. So even if you rushed to lock into an unlimited plan last year when they were doing away with it for new users, now there’s only one way to keep it if you like upgrading your smartphone per your contract – pay full retail price for that new phone and they’ll kindly keep the unlimited data streaming as usual.
…That’s easily $500+ out of your pocket to keep your $30 monthly fee for unlimited data that may have attracted you to Verizon in the first place.
For those who can’t afford a smartphone at full price and consent to upgrading their phone for free ($30 fee to do that now by the way), and those who already have a tiered data plan or have just joined Verizon, here’s what the “Shareable Data” fee structure looks like:
- $40 per smartphone on plan (must have one smartphone on plan)
- $30 per basic phone on plan
Unlimited Talk + Unlimited Text + Data Allotted to Entire Plan, To Be Shared Between Lines:
- 1 GB = $50 2 GB = $60 4 GB = $70
- 6 GB = $80 8 GB = $90 10 GB = $100
- Any needs over 10 GB are $15 extra per 2 GB
- $15 per GB over specified plan usage
If you own only basic phones, here’s what you’re looking at:
Basic Phone Fee Structure:
- 700 shared minutes only = $40 for one phone
- Unlimited talk + unlimited text + 300mb data = $70 for one phone
- Additional basic phones on plan are $30 each
Why is this such a big deal? Well, do the math – unless you have a large family who uses a small amount of data but was paying a lot for texting and minutes on several phones, chances are you’ll pay more under this fee structure. Individuals who relied on small minute packages and little to no text to keep their smartphone bills in the $60-80 range with limited or unlimited data are now forced into $90 a month for 1GB plans at a minimum.
Verizon tries to buffer this by giving free mobile hotspot access for smartphones and tablets, but given that this feature is designed to provide internet access to multiple devices when Wi-Fi isn’t available, you now risk going over your shareable data cap by using it for any length of time. Part of the appeal of unlimited data is that if we get in a tight spot and need hotspot access for our laptops, we don’t have to worry about the data usage and overage fees. Now the “feature” seems more like a money trap – an hour of Netflix may be 300mb on your smartphone, but if you stream HD on a laptop it’s 2GB an hour, so think twice before hotspotting videos for the kids on those long car rides.
Even if you want to stick it to Verizon, they’ve made it a pretty difficult task. If my 2 person household switched to basic phones but wanted text access, we’d still be paying $70 for the base phone + $30 for an additional phone, so $100 without surcharges. That’s an awful lot for access to services that don’t cost Verizon much to provide – perhaps with people wising up to this fact and circumventing the need for traditional calls & texting through software like Skype, their overcharging customers without other options makes sense to them. Plus Verizon pre-paid smartphones aren’t any better at $80 for unlimited talk/text + 1GB data.
Likewise, they keep stressing that you can keep your current unlimited data plan like all will be well, but if you use more than 2GB of unlimited data on your 3G phone a month, Verizon considers you one of its “top 5% highest data users” and manages your reception speeds when the network is congested. This is an effort on their part to “encourage” 3G users to upgrade to 4G phones (not subject to data throttling) which in turn means – you guessed it – you have to join a shareable data plan.
I have noticed in the past two months my 3G speeds have been seriously tanking, which is why I began researching Verizon’s policies to begin with. I don’t torrent, I don’t tether – I doubt I do anything different on my smartphone than most readers, although I may do so more frequently. Verizon can try and spin this however they want as the best course of action for the majority of customers, just like they can lump me in with the “top 5%” of people using 20+GB of data monthly that they claim make these tiered plans necessary. Just keep in mind that a month of Pandora usage alone can run up to 2GB of data, and that every phone, tablet, and notebook they sell you is designed to use more data, not less. Coincidence? What do you think?
By: Alex TwoSpirit