Verizon Hints at Possible Family Plan for Mobile Data
A Verizon executive says it’s all but inevitable that the company will eventually offer data plans that family members can share among multiple devices.
Since Verizon is joining the “Wireless Evil-Doers Data Cap Club” this summer and doing away with unlimited data plans, this may be a way for the nation’s largest wireless company to soften the blow somewhat.
The company is floating the idea of family plan for smartphone data so the kids can stream Netflix endlessly using bytes that mom and dad pay for, but don’t fully use.
Family calling plans have long been an an industry standard, allowing people on the same contract (not necessarily related, for what it’s worth) to use a pool of use-it-or-lose-it minutes. The benefit, of course, is that each person doesn’t have to pay separately for minutes. Instead, you get a bulk rate, and a family member who rarely uses the phone doesn’t feel like an idiot paying for a required minimum allotment.
But there is no such thing for data. This wasn’t a tragedy when unlimited data plans were the norm. But as they are becoming a thing of the past, the notion that (say) three people on one contract must pay $25 each for data they can’t share seems more than onerous.
Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo told Reuters Global Technology Summit Thursday that a shift to shared data was “inevitable,” but didn’t say when it might happen.
“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,” Shammo said. “That’s just a logical progression.”
Verizon Wireless will put an end to its unlimited data plans this summer. To be perfectly honest, though, “unlimited” has never really meant totally unlimited, since Verizon and other carriers would begin ‘punishing’ big downloaders with usage above 5 GB per month.
AT&T ended unlimited data last June but allows you to keep the unlimited plan if you already have one. AT&T and Verizon both offer Apple’s iPhone, the most popular smartphone sold.