Verizon Wireless is slated to launch family data plans sometime this year, allowing households to subscribe to one data package rather than one package per family line. This way, customers can keep up with data usage on a whole rather than having to monitor three or four lines separately. Needless to say, as a parent, a single data plan would be much easier to manage, and possibly cheaper.
A leaked screenshot posted on Tuesday indicates that Verizon may be finalizing its new service. As seen below, the screen depicts an online Family Data Usage Calculator which asks the primary account owner to determine how many e-mails the family sends each month, how many web pages they surf, how much time they play online games and so on. The number of minutes per day is then calculated into MBs which is in turn added to a Total Monthly Data Usage pool in increments of 5 GB.
So far Verizon hasn't coughed up any details regarding the family data packages. Customers who still have the unlimited plans from the days before Verizon went into tiered-pricing mode will likely not need to switch. But those stuck with capped data plans may or may not see a benefit in a family plan switch other than added simplicity. Currently Verizon charges $30.00 for a 2 GB monthly data allowance per qualified line -- $50.00 for 5 GB and $80.00 for 10 GB.
Back in January, an unnamed source claimed that training material for an update to Verizon's internal account management application included several screenshots, one of which showed the general Account Level Plan at the top, and the account's subscribed devices broken down per line in the lower Line Level Plan section. The bottom portion revealed a new check-box labeled "All Lines on Data Share." By clicking this, it was assumed that all lines listed would share the same data package. Adding an additional line would cost $9.99 per month as usual, and would leech from the same pool if checked.
Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam confirmed back in December 2011 that a shared data plan structure was on the way, saying that 2012 would likely be the year Verizon would launch the service. "We have been working on this for a couple of years. Getting to one bill and getting to account-level pricing is our goal," he said.