Verizon shakes up wireless pricing

The 'phone company' era ends as the carrier ditches its voice plans in favor of a new sharing model that encourages subscribers to hook up tablets, laptops and more.

By InvestorPlace Jun 12, 2012 9:38AM

The age of "phone companies" is officially over.


The wireless arm of Verizon (VZ) has long understood the mobile revolution. And as a result, it is dropping nearly all of its voice plans and shifting to data-focused subscriptions that allow multiple devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets.


It's a wise move for the nation's largest cellphone company -- if you can even call Verizon that anymore -- and a change that competitor AT&T (T) likely will replicate very soon.


Here are the details on the Verizon changes, which take effect June 28:


Pricing schemes focus on data usage and allow consumers to share bandwidth across up to 10 gadgets. Dubbed Share Everything, the plans will include unlimited phone calls and texting and start at $90 per month for just one smartphone and 1 gigabyte of data, with additional charges for devices and usage as consumers do more with their electronics.


Verizon is billing the Share Everything prices as a boon to consumers who don’t use a lot of data, as they are cheaper than current plans with unlimited calling and texting.


However, those of you who still use an old phone primarily for voice will see some sticker shock if you opt into this plan.


A very basic $40-per-month plan will remain in place for users of "dumb" phones who don’t consume any data. But other than that, it’s the $90 data plan and up.


Obviously, the new pricing is a huge plus to folks with multiple devices, since the fees for getting separate data plans for every tablet or laptop can really add up.


AT&T has already said it's looking at introducing shared-data plans soon. Just a few days ago, it called data-only plans inevitable, so while Verizon seems to have beat AT&T to the punch, you can expect its top rival to follow suit.


This is a huge change for the major telecom companies, and it closely follows a move in the past year to end unlimited data plans as superusers of mobile devices have clogged up networks.


So what does this mean for consumers? The good news is folks with a lot of personal electronics are going to get a break -- both in the logistics of billing, with a shared account for all their gadgets, and on pricing. For instance, Verizon will stop charging extra to allow you to use your smartphone as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.


And just paying for the data instead of footing a fee for access to Verizon networks might finally encourage folks to get their Kindle Fire or iPad hooked up anywhere instead of relying only on Wi-Fi. That ultimately could place much more stress on Verizon's network, so capacity is key if demand does rise sharply.


But more importantly, this move is a signal that the old era of phones as we know it is officially over. These days, mobile devices can do so much more than just allow you to talk to someone, so Verizon is smart to evolve with the electronics industry and focus on data first.


It's amazing to think that 15 years ago less than 5% of people in the world had a cell phone. Now mobile conversations have become all but an afterthought.


More from InvestorPlace.com


74Comments
Jul 31, 2012 10:09AM
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These guys owe me over $4,000. in unused minutes, plus junk fees they couldn't explain,  after years of use with them.   Even when they had a 9.95 program and phone card option, they refused to tell me when I asked them on three different occasions.  I discovered their true greediness through a friend at 'ClearWire'... a longer story, but I dumped these guys immediately.  Now have a TracPhone ... double minuites ... love it !!  Thanks for your post.   ~ Disillusioned

Jul 26, 2012 9:31AM
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Well, I've only been happy with Verizon. I started with them many years ago and one of my main concerns with any company is accessibility and professional help with tech support and any kind of issues. the tech support at Verizon is phenomenal. Day or night-very helpful and the customer service always gives me results also. Also our local Verizon store is extremely helpful also. Before Verizon I was with AT&T and that was not pleasant -many mistakes on my bills.

When i was first with Verizon many many years ago, they mistakenly charged me for 2 internet services. It did take a few months, but the results were that i was not only credited but given extra credits for my trouble. My main concerns are the tech support-and they have helped me immensely many times setting up phones and wireless, helping me with my smart phone, etc.

Jun 15, 2012 3:52PM
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Well , seeing that my home internet is packaged with my cable and im mostly home using wifi , this will help me and my wife bill drastically , we both have data plans for our iphones so sharing one complete plan is gonna save us money . The 1 gig isnt a concern because we dont use 3G much , we use our wifi at home . Away from home we barely use our internet

Jun 15, 2012 2:11AM
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The problem with adding multiple devices to a shared plan is you only have 1 GB of data to share on the lower tiered plan. Can anyone imagine sharing 1 GB of data between 4 or 5 devices over the course of a month? Face micro-managing your Verizon bill like days of old or upgrade to the super expensive data plan you can't afford while trying to stay current with a world that is become ever reliant on mobility.

All of this while Verizon is touting a 4G LTE network that lets you download/ upload at blazing fast speeds all of the data munching video, music, and media that you want. You're being goaded into overages much the same way they use to collect on minutes. A large collective of customers have no clue about MB and GB and what all of this represents, so when they are convinced by a Verizon rep to get that new smartphone to enjoy this amazing new technology, they'll be left holding the bag as to why they are paying out the ying yang for letting their children or grandchildren watch video on their phones.

Is there any wonder that they are offering shared plans as the only option as opposed to another option? If this was an avenue to help customers, then it would have been offered as an option not the only option. 
Jun 13, 2012 11:41AM
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This article is completely misleading. If you have a shared smartphone package the price actually drops from what it is now due to unlimited text and voice plans for only $40 per user.
Jun 13, 2012 5:21AM
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I was recently sucked into the flashy Android (times 2) market by Verizon.  The appeal of the tech was great, but they don't allow a minimum use package.  Over the past month, I've used less than 2 percent of the minimum quota they REQUIRED me to buy.  They force me to have a 30$ data pack on each phone, that I literally use practically none of.  I like the phones, I don't like the service.  And now I'm stuck with it.
Jun 13, 2012 5:06AM
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Another reason to avoid doing any business with these looters. I don't even have a landline with them it is all over my cable Internet...
Jun 12, 2012 8:26PM
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Isn't it typical: Verizon is my land-line, my DSL and my Direct-TV bundle + we have Verizon wireless 4 phones.
But I've had a PROBLEM with Verizon's "DSL" -- can't get pages to load, can't "find" sites, DNR look-up failed.
I finally got a gentleman to come to my house and RESEARCH the problem: "It's the router." HE SAID.
We paid for a new router and guess what: STILL crappy slow loading "DSL".  I was on the phone twice and twice I got cut off (just the dial tone.) I was on  ON-LINE help twice and twice we got cut off because of the crappy DSL.
I won't buy ANYTHING from Verizon. Their customer service STINKS.
Jun 12, 2012 8:12PM
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I hope they are allowing people to cancel their contracts because of the change. If I am not grandfathered in to keep my contract the way it is for the next 14 months I will cancel and fight the fee if they want it.
Even if I am grandfathered, I will be switching to a carrier without these plans when my contract is up. This is the final straw for me with these greedy a$$holes

Jun 12, 2012 7:31PM
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I hIave a jocular but sad story to tell about C&P, Bell Atlantic and Verizon. Some yearss back I was seperated, paying over $1,300 a month in child support and was receiving bills from Verizon cell--at least that is the company I mailed the check to for more than I could afford. I called their Customer Service-or should it be Customer Disservice? and told them I wanted to cancel my usage of their cell phone. I spent 30 minutes listening to some young woman trying to get me to change my mind. I finally convinced her to put her supervisor on the phone. The supervisor said the same thing and we argued for another 15-20 minutes. She wanted me to try and get someone in my family to take over the account and only after I told her I was born in an orphanage and had no family as far as I knew did she relent. I was lying but it worked.

Try it should you have trouble with disposing of your Verizon contract.

 

Jun 12, 2012 7:27PM
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Didn't we just go through the "Fee for paying your Verizon bill" around Christmas? I dropped them then.

Jun 12, 2012 7:03PM
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GREEDY CORPORATE SCUM BAGS.......Screwing their active and retired workers with demands to lower employee costs and yet they pay upper management like Kings. Can you hear us now Verizon....

Jun 12, 2012 6:50PM
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VERIZON SUCKS...Customer support is a joke...3 months away and my contract is up...Metro PC hear I come
Jun 12, 2012 6:42PM
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DUMP VERIZON 2012!!!

I've dumped Verizon several years ago because of the outrageous monthly fees!
I'm not on straight talk's unlimited minutes/messages/data plan for $45/mo! Saves me a ton of money. Straight Talk uses AT&T towers. I have a HTC ONE X and my wife uses Iphone 4S. Takes a little time to setup the phones but once you do...  you have an awesome phone for a price NO ONE COMES CLOSE!
Contact me if you want to save money. I can setup Android or Iphone 4S on ST. You can buy my service on ebay for safety reasons. Item 261034440771 
"Setup Service to Use Your AT&T Iphone 4S on Straight Talk Unlimited Service".

trade_cell is my user ID to check my feedback. 

LETS ALL DUMP VERIZON!!!
Jun 12, 2012 6:39PM
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I dumped our Verizon TV and DSL last week - In two weeks I'm dumping the Verizon landline and both cells...... their customer service is like talking to a rock and totally useless. In our area, if you lose any of your Verizon service(s), for any reason (99.9% of the time it's their fault), the average tech response time is 7-10 days and that's only if it's coded as "important rush" on the work order.
Jun 12, 2012 6:27PM
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Verizon staff will codename this new plan the "Grab Your Ankles" plan...

Jun 12, 2012 6:21PM
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This is nothing but a pricing scam folks. It is designed to maximize profit and minimize service.
Verizon is out to rip off as many people as they can. There's a similar article today on MacWorld that has a link to a Verizon plan calculator. Go there and try it out.

I did and if I switched to their plan, the same service I get now will cost a minimum of $30 more a month. If my wife and I both have smartphones, it's $50 more, plus taxes. Personally, I think anyone who pays $200 or more for their phone service is a moron, but I guess there's a lot of them, otherwise Verizon wouldn't be in business.

Don't believe a word of this con-artist of an author. He knows it's is a rip-off too, but is avoiding telling you all the truth.

BTW, every one of these devices is totally dependent on rare earth elements to function. These elements are currently in short supply and unless new sources are found within the next few years, this will all begin to collapse. This is fact. Check it out for yourself if you like. I know many of you have bought into the fallacy we can go on forever with our earths resources. You're all in for a very big shock and it will slap you in the face sooner rather than later. It's expected to happen before the end of this decade.

Jun 12, 2012 5:51PM
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Cell phones are dramatically overpriced, and merely permits you calling from anywhere instead of your landline phone for a mostly unnecessary function. If you have so much money tospend to stay in constant touch with all your friends and family, why notsend email or use your home phone  Where is this going?Emergency usage is adequate at low rates
Jun 12, 2012 5:42PM
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I pay 124.00 a month for three phones unlimted data....
Jun 12, 2012 5:42PM
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I just want a phone to be a phone. I'm perplexed at the popularity of texting. What's next, an app for Morse Code? Will you be able to buy an app for smoke signals?
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