It turns out Verizon’s move towards shared data plans isn’t exactly as altruistic as we would have liked, according to a CNET report. Sometime this summer, Verizon will turn on shared data plans that will allow customers to share data with other people on their plan, and connect multiple devices such as tablets and laptops to Verizon’s speedy 4G service. In a perfect world, shared data plans would save customers a bit of money, say paying $50 for a shared 5GB of data instead of $60 for 4G (two 2GB plans at $30).
That may actually be what Verizon plans on rolling out this summer, and it may end up saving several people decent amounts of cash on their plan, but Verizon sees it as a way to make even more money long-term. Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo believes shared data plans and access to tethering will lead to more consumption, forcing people into higher-tiered, more-expensive data plans.
“I think revenue ARPU [average revenue per user] will continue to grow as we get into data share plans and people start to connect more devices [on the network]. As they add more devices, they are going to have to buy up into tiers. So again, you will see the revenue increase there.”
So while you may be paying a bit less on the lower end, Verizon is betting that as their customers become more and more mobile, they’ll use their cellular connection to hook up laptops and tablets to their Verizon 4G network, and 5GB of monthly data will no longer be enough to get you through the month without either needing to switch to a higher tier or suffer significant overage charges. If you happened to get in on Verizon’s unlimited data before they took that benefit away, you’ll be forced into the data share plans once you upgrade. There’s a possibility customers can keep unlimited 4G data by purchasing phones at full retail price, though we won’t hold our breath on that one. Verizon didn’t immediately respond to our question about this workaround.
Update: In a statement to The New York Times, Verizon confirmed that folks who purchase devices at full retail price will be allowed to keep their unlimited data plan.
This is not the first time this year Verizon has instituted a price increase on wireless service. New customers are now charged a $30 “Upgrade Fee” meant to offset the cost of handset subsidies. This one in particular doesn’t sit well with us, as Verizon already charges $50 – $100 more than any other company for new, high-end devices. Customers would do well to consider all possibilities when it comes time to upgrade, lest you end up paying significantly more for the same service.