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Verizon unveils new 'Share Everything' plan: Details customers should know

June 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Verizon Wireless announced Tuesday that it is phasing out nearly all of its phone plans and replacing them with pricing plans that encourage new customers to connect their non-phone devices, like tablets and computers, to Verizon's network.

Subscribers pay for two things: the pool of wireless data they use every month, and the devices they add to the plan. The new "Share Everything" plan, available June 28, will start at $90 per month for unlimited calling, texting and one gigabyte of data on one smartphone. It allows customers to share a monthly data allowance for up to 10 devices.

However, the plans will push many subscribers to spend more by including the unlimited calls and texts by default. Unlimited calling plans provide peace of mind, but not many people need them, and the average number of minutes used is declining.

Verizon won't switch existing customers to the new plan unless they ask. Current customers can keep their plan even if they trade up to a new phone and extend their contract. For new customers, Share Everything will be the only option.

For customers with unlimited calling and texting plans, switching to the new plan may help them save money, especially those with family plans. The new pricing scheme will be beneficial for customers who have a tablet, too, because they will be able to create a "mobile hotspot" with their smartphone, allowing them to go online with their Wi-Fi-only tablet.

Customers with unlimited data plans can keep them, unless they move the plan to a new phone after June 28. The exception is if they pay the full price for it. That will add hundreds of dollars to the price of most new phones.

For customers who simply have one smartphone and no other devices, an alternative exists to the $90 Share Everything plan, but it's only $10 cheaper and provides just 300 megabytes of data per month. It includes unlimited calling and texting.

For those who don't need a fancy data plan and just want a regular calling-only phone on the Verizon network, there will be one plan for $40 a month for 700 minutes. Texting and data will cost extra. For this type of usage, there are cheaper, no-contract alternatives with other companies.

The "Share Everything" plans are the biggest revamp in wireless pricing in years. The new plans reflect Verizon's desire to keep growing now that nearly every American already has a phone.

It is likely that AT&T and other carriers will be moving in this direction as well. It makes sense for phone companies to meter only the data usage, because they can easily provide calling and texting, but data usage stresses their network. They also want to get as many new, non-phone devices as possible on their networks. For customers, shared data plans are cheaper than putting each device on a new plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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