Verizon May Switch From Unlimited to Shared Data

The days of unlimited data usage for Verizon Wireless subscribers is almost coming to a close, as the Big Red Network is expected to introduce tiered pricing plans sometime this summer, essentially forcing faithful subscribers to pay more for less. Goodbye flat fee... we loved you, really.

But the switch may get easier to digest later on, as Verizon plans to roll out additional options like family plans which allow users to share a set amount of data. Verizon Communications Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo hinted to a family data plan during the Reuters Global Technology Summit, saying that families already share a bucket of minutes for phone calls.

"We had individual minutes for individual users," Shammo said. "Then we eventually got to what we call family share where everyone in the family shares the same minutes. I think it's safe to assume that at some point you are going to have mega-plans (for data) and people are going to share that mega-plan based on the number of devices within their family. That's just a logical progression."

Currently Verizon's roadmap for tiered data pricing is unknown, but may be similar to AT&T's two data offerings: 2 GB at $25/month and 4 GB at $45/month. Shammo stated earlier this year that he could see a potential of Verizon's customer base spending within the $30 to $50 range.

"As smartphone prices come down, more people will be able to afford them. We have to get those customers a sufficient entry point," he said in March. "We're still wrestling with what that entry point is."

Right now Verizon subscribers with family plans are required to pay a $29.99 monthly fee per smartphone for unlimited data – less for Internet-ready "feature" phones that don't qualify in the smartphone category. Still, with three smartphones on one plan, that's an extra $90 per month that users cannot cancel, as Verizon typically forces data plans on Internet-ready phones whether customers want it activated or not.

Tablet users looking for a 3G/4G data plan from Verizon are looking at $20/month for 1 GB. $35/month for 3 GB, $50 for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB. Tethering and hotspot fees for smartphones and feature phones costs $20/month for 2 GB. While these pricing plans may not reflect what Verizon has in store this summer for subscribers, it provides some insight as to where the company may be headed. Either way, careless subscribers will eventually deepen Verizon's pockets starting this summer.

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • milktea
    expected :)
  • burnley14
    I'm a huge fan of this. As someone who has still not purchased a smartphone simply due to the ridiculous cost of a data plan, this will make the cost much more manageable as all members of the family plan can split that data cost evenly (or proportionally) and each have their own smart phone without its own gouging price. That is, as long as it's something reasonable, like $50 or less for the smallest data package.
  • @burnley - Until you realize how fast your phone gobbles up data (which is one month), you'll love this plan. After that you will hate it.
  • mister g
    They better include free service over Wi-Fi like AT&T and T-Mobile just did (huh, already sharing ideas I see), that would shift the burden onto existing landlines and Comcast (bad thing).
  • This is why I don't own a cell phone, they're all corrupt money grabbers just as much as the oil companies, and AT&T is the worst of them all.
  • 29.99 is less than 1 dollar a day... For unlimited. I would hardly call that ridiculous. Most people could pay for a full family share data plan by simply giving up that single Starbucks coffee every day. So keep it in perspective. Even land line internets are limited now, yet more and more things are going to data use media. So I personally never want to see another thing go to limited... Going limited when all the things that use it are getting more and more size to them... Is scary.
  • But what about people loke me. I am a sole sharing. I will end up paying for a bucketful and tossing most of it away?
  • enforcer22
    Well guess its a good thing i got rid of my smart phone.
  • Kamab
    It's too bad our broadband infrastructure blows or I wouldn't mind paying so much for data plans.
  • $29.99/month=359.88/year.... so you can surf the web anytime on a small device
    20.00/month-50.00/month=$240 to $600/year... because you just have to be up to date
    60.00/month=$720/year for one regular cell line
    Then pay $1200/year for your cable/internet
    hmmm.... all so that you and your children can have access to all of the great information this world has to offer.