Friday, April 20, 2012

Verizon targeting launch of shared, family data plans for mid-summer

Shared data plans have been rumored coming to Verizon since last year, with even Verizon execs confirming they were on the horizon. On Verizon's Q1 earnings report conference, CFO Francis Shammo said the company was targeting their launch for mid-summer.

The information has been coming out of Verizon for some time, so it's unclear why the company continues to talk about these shared or family data plans, but not release it. Not only has Shammo spoken of the idea several times, so has Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam.

The idea would be similar to the way that families can share calling minutes, and makes sense, as in the new age of smartphones, minutes might be less important to end users than megabytes. Right now, you can have as many as five users on a single family plan sharing minutes. We'd imagine the new family data plans will extend across all five, the same way.

Below is what Shammo said in the call. At the time he was discussing a question from Simon Flannery (Morgan Stanley, Research Division). The question was many-layered, but include a query on analyst's feelings that wireless revenue was going to be flat or even down on postpaid plans:

"If you look at, though there's going to be other categories that drive the growth of Wireless in the future, as I said, we will be launching our data share plan in mid-summer this year. We believe that, that plan, the way we have it designed, will enable our customers to easily connect other devices to that plan."

Verizon would likely price a shared family data plan at a lower cost than the individual plans. The one caveat though: anything like this will also opt you out of any unlimited data plan you might be grandfathered into. Speaking to Verizon reps (and customers), most customers feel those are like gold right now.

If you have an unlimited data plan, and want to keep it, don't make the mistake of jumping for this "offer." On the other, the savings might make it worth your while. Verizon did not discuss the pricing of the new plan, so that remains to be seen.

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