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Data is Not Data is Not Data on Verizon’s New Shared Data Plans

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To preface this post, I’ll start by saying that I think Verizon’s shared data plans is a step in the right direction and makes it more affordable for consumers to connect to the Internet in the post-PC era since unlimited data plans ended. Rather than paying for entirely separate and expensive data plans for each device, users can add on additional devices to share in the data plan  for a low monthly surcharge. And as my colleague Josh Smith notes, savings can add up to the hundreds for users with multiple devices. That said, Verizon’s data plan doesn’t treat data as just data. When it comes to data-only devices, these plans still discriminate according to the types of devices we own.

For example, from Verizon Wireless’ announcement this morning, having a primary line with a $60 charge will give me unlimited shared voice minutes, unlimited shared messaging, and 2 GB of data per month. If I add a tablet, which counts as a data-only device, I can have the tablet share in the 2 GB of data bucket per month with my smartphone for a surcharge of $10 each month. Now, instead of a tablet, if I wanted to add a MiFi, which is another data-only device meaning that it doesn’t provide for voice functionality in the U.S. under Verizon’s current offerings, that tablet would cost $20 instead of the $10 required by the tablet for the same privilege of sharing in my 2 GB data bucket.

I know a MiFi is more convenient and leads to users wanting to tether more–I love Novatel’s latest offering in the 4620L Jetpack that we just reviewed–but isn’t that device discrimination? After all, shouldn’t data be just that–data? It really shouldn’t matter how and where I use my data; by virtue of shared data plans, data should be treated the same regardless of the device as long as I am paying the surcharge(s). Both the tablet and the MiFi allow me to tether other devices to my unit over a WiFi connection, and we’ve seen the tethering on the iPad yield some lengthy operation times on a single charge, so why is there a 100% premium when considering adding a MiFi instead of a tablet?

Most likely, a MiFi is considered a business device that Verizon feels it can justify a higher charge whereas tablets are considered consumer devices. Still, with an extra $10 for a MiFi or a laptop or netbook with built-in 3G/4G connectivity, over the life of a 2-year contract, users will spend $240 more for the same privilege of sharing data than tablet owners would.

And I mention laptop and netbook here because this will issue pose an interesting situation when Verizon adopts connected Windows 8 devices on its network. The desktop-class OS will power anything from tablets to PCs to netbooks and notebooks and everything in between. We’ve seen Intel-based notebooks with convertible and hybrid form factors debut at Computex and it will be splitting hairs to try to decipher if these will be connected laptops or if they count as tablets moving forward. Another option with Windows 8 is to just count the ARM-version of Windows 8, known as Windows RT, as a ‘tablet’ and count traditional Windows 8 on x86 architecture on AMD and Intel as connected notebooks.

Hopefully, when rival AT&T rolls out its shared data plans, they’ll be more cognizant than data is just data, which really is just data. Let’s not discriminate against devices.

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

15 Comments

  1. Eochaid

    06/12/2012 at 11:07 am

    Except that that initial 2GB will cost you $100 because the $60 doesn’t cover any device. It gives you unlimited text, messages, and 2GB of data, but you have to pussy $40 to actually use it with a smart phone. Which means your tablet will eat your 2GB for $20. You’ll probably want 4GB, as a result, which costs you $130- which happens to be exactly the same amount as you would have paid.

    These plans don’t save anyone anything because nobody us stupid enough to have the amount if devices you would need to truly benefit. The main beneficiaries would probably be large families with 4-6 smart phones. More than that and 10GB isn’t enough. Less than that, and you are essentially paying normal price. What Verizon did here is try to encourage people to add more devices they wouldn’t have otherwise and try sell their 10GB plans more often.

  2. Jake Mongoose

    06/12/2012 at 11:57 am

    Right now I have a 700 minute a month plan, two smart phones, two feature phones, texting on one of those lines only. Being forced into this plan would increase my bill by at least fifty bucks. How is this good for anyone but Verizon?

    • Janet

      06/23/2012 at 7:11 pm

      You are right Jake. It’s NOT good for anyone else but Verizon. They are rolling out new 4G cities left & right. And “GREED” is now taking over.

  3. Allen

    06/12/2012 at 1:16 pm

    Low monthly surcharge? That “Low monthly surcharge” costs more than a current 2 Gig plan and doesn’t come with so much as a bit of data. This whole thing is a farce, aimed to placate the masses begging for shared data while tricking them into paying for unlimited minutes.

  4. williams

    06/12/2012 at 2:51 pm

    Monthly surcharge does not look so low as I would like it to be!
    I’m responsible for Knowledge Base Software usage, therefore I really need good month plans.

  5. abe

    06/12/2012 at 5:28 pm

    50 bucks more per month. great

  6. sdnative

    06/16/2012 at 3:19 am

    “Verizon’s shared data plans is a step in the right direction and makes it more affordable for consumers to connect to the Internet”? Verizon prices haven’t been a step in the right direction or affordable since unlimited was scratched and 4gig for the price of 2gig offer was stopped. And with this new shared plan, how is the single line user getting a better deal compared to even the current 2gig plan?

  7. sdnative

    06/16/2012 at 3:53 am

    The current single line 2gig smartphone plan is this:
    $40 voice
    $30 2gig data
    $10 text

    How does the new plan save me money? Isn’t the new one saying $40 smartphone voice & text + $60 2gig data per month for a total of $100?

    It seems to me Verizon is essentially boosting the price (especially for single lines) to offset throwing in unlimited talk and text when in reality, more data for the money is far more important.

  8. Janet

    06/23/2012 at 7:07 pm

    My Mom, Dad & myself have been with Verizon for several years now. This has been the VERY best cellular company we could have ever asked for after switching from Cingular/AT&T. We have NEVER had any problems with billing or with customer service.

    But I can honestly say that Verizon has really messed up this time. And I have only seen a FEW (very few people) think this new “SHARE THE DATA” crap is such a good thing. I’m the only one in our family that has a smartphone. Yes; I do have UN-limited data at this point & time. But my two years will be up in November.

    Right now our bill runs about $155.00. That’s with insurance & taxes. But with this share the data mess; it will be 40 for my phone & 30 apiece for their phones. Then add $60.00 more dollars for 2gigs. of data. Then add $30.00 more for insurance on our phones. And last but surely not least, you have to add all the different kinds of taxes. Some of which you really wonder where they come from & why on earth are we having to pay them.

    So after adding all that up, our bill will run about $220.00 or a little more. So we would be paying $60.00 more at least. Maybe a little more. So for the FEW people & the good ole “PREZ” of Verizon saying “SHARE THE DATA” plan is better; please EXPLAIN it to myself & others. Because it makes me sick to hear the people at Verizon saying this is what people wanted. That’s a HUGE lie. They must have polled themselves.

    I can’t see anyone (with the economy the way it is) thinking this is a good thing. And for some of the folks that think everyone will just gripe about it but in the end pay it!!!! All I can say is NOT this family. And I have many other friends that are going to do the same as we are. STRAIGHT TALK here we come. And I’ll be recruiting as many VERIZON customers I can. Verizon can line their GREEDY POCKETS all they want with this NEW plan; but it won’t be with my money, our friends money & any other people I can find to switch to Straight Talk. I have friends that have been telling me it’s the best thing to do. And now I think they are right.

    “VERIZON BETTER RE-THINK THIS. GREED COULD BE THEIR DOWNFALL IF NOT”

    • huntnthyme

      07/06/2012 at 9:01 am

      Other than greed,
      I can’t see how unlimted was $30 and making your phone a hotspot was another $30… but in the New World Order … 2Gb is $40.. OUCH!!!

      It would be nice , I know a pipe dream, if Verizon just came up with a truely uncomplicated Unlimited phone plan (minutes, text and Data)… $50 or 60 a month (plus the rediculous taxes) Verizon would get new customers and keep existing ones.. and they would still make $$, although maybe not as much..

      I’m already paying too much!!!

  9. James

    06/29/2012 at 10:41 am

    This change is absolutely ridiculous. The base price for their 2GB plan is 100, because to add EVEN THE 1ST PHONE to a plan requires an additional $40 for a smartphone. And don;t try to pitch this as a way for consumers to save money. Try adding lines on other carriers, you’ll end up paying $10. Now Verizon wants to charge $40 in order to simply share the same data! You’re not even getting any extra data! $40 is ridiculous to simply share what you’re already paying for.

  10. Judy

    07/04/2012 at 2:55 pm

    Bye,Bye Verizon

  11. Jennifer

    07/10/2012 at 3:14 pm

    I think I made the right decision to change my plan. I have 2 smartphones and wanted to use a mobile hotspot at home. My monthly charges will not go up if I keep my data to 6GB or less, which is almost 2GB more a month than I currently average. It would only cost $10/month more if I felt I needed to add an extra 2GB. I don’t regret my decision yet. I will get back to you after a few billing cycles….

  12. Andrew

    09/08/2012 at 6:04 pm

    Bye bye Verizon. Not worth the hassle to extend you credit any more. Count me out, I’m going to pre-paid.

  13. Roger E.

    12/10/2012 at 10:37 pm

    The writer is either STUPID or paid by verizon. The new share plans may work with families with 3 phones or more but what about individuals?!. Does verizon want to drop their individuls customers or what. Now I should pay $40+$40=$80 for the same 2GB data I use for $30 right now. unlimited text and talk are not a big deal in the sea of applicaitons we got right now. What is the purpose of umlimited text while we IM and text using facebook, twitter, yahoo, googletalk and others and for an individual, 450 minutes plus mobile to mobile plus night and weekend are just extreme. I think it’s time for customers to show verizon that they don’t have all of this freedom to squeeze us and there are many many options around there to consider.

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