Verizon launches multi-device data plan

Verizon Wireless recently launched an opt-in wireless plan for customers seeking the convenience of combining all of their devices into a single bill.

The Share Everything Plan allows customers to place up to 10 devices on a plan that includes unlimited talk, unlimited text, video and picture messaging. Customers purchase a single data allowance for the plan, which ranges from 1 gigabyte to 10 GB of shared data. The plan also includes Verizon’s Mobile Hotspot service, which gives customers access to WiFi in places like airports and coffee shops.

Customers who choose the Share Everything Plan pay a basic fee for each device: smartphones, $40; basic phones, $30; jetpacks, USBs, notebooks or netbooks, $20; and tablets, $10. They can then choose a data allocation amount which starts at $50 for 1 GB, and reaches up to $100 for 10 GB.

“It is a fundamental change in the way customers purchase their wireless plans,” said Andrea Meyer, public relations manager for the Illinois Wisconsin Region at Verizon, who added the plan should be especially advantageous to families.

The Share Everything Plan is not available to business accounts.

Concerns have been raised over the data allowances where overage charges – especially in families with data-crunching teens – may cause bill shock.

A plan containing a single smartphone and a data allowance of 2 GB is $90. A family carting two smartphones, two basic phones, a netbook and a tablet and a data allowance of 4 GB is $240. Critics say the risk of overage charges increases with the number of devices.

Meyer said customers should take a look at past usage, and try to anticipate future data consumption. Customers can track their data usage on Verizon’s web site, sign up for alerts, and modify the contract at anytime to avoid overages.

It’s premature to gauge customer’s response to the plan, but Meyer said the company conducted extensive research before the launch, when more than 50,000 customers were questioned about the service.

Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon serves 93 million retail customers nationwide and is the first of the major telecom companies to offer unlimited voice and text with shared data, something telecom experts expect to change. Rumors that Verizon’s biggest competitor, AT&T, is considering a similar wireless plan are circulating, and other telecom companies are expected to hop on the budget bandwagon.

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