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Verizon Says Family Data Plans Are Coming...


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Both AT&T and Sprint have also hinted in the past that they will eventually offer such plans (with "buckets of bytes") but the question for many I'm sure is when...



(via www.dslreports.com)



Verizon Family Data Plans Coming Mid Year

Busy Trying to Figure Out How Not to Lose Money


Both Verizon and AT&T last year hinted more than a few times that they'd finally be joining the modern age by offering family data plans. Ideally the bucket-o-bytes approach would, like voice minutes, work across different family accounts and more importantly across devices, meaning no more annoying additional individual subscriptions for your tablet, handheld game console, or other device. While AT&T did recently announce a price hike, family plans were nowhere to be found during recent earnings announcements.


Verizon seems closer to a launch, telling attendees (transcript, pdf) at the Deutsche Bank Media and Telecommunications Conference that family plans will be dropping very soon. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo told investors that the company has been slow on the idea because it's a "a very complex equation," and Verizon has wanted to make sure such plans would be "good for Verizon and...good for our customer." Shammo gave mid year as a vague launch window, starting with LTE users:

"Now it's also important to realize that the day we launch this account billing, everybody won't be migrating to the account billing day one. This is going to be a long-term migration into where we want to get data plan sharing, but this will be more of a 4G play for us and I think it will be critical for us. And you'll see something launched--even Lowell alluded to it--you'll see something launched mid-year this year from us."


As it stands, Verizon makes plenty of money charging each individual member of a family an individual data plan for each device, with most of their allotments left unused. Verizon and AT&T pricing is very carefully crafted so that the least expensive option (usually around 200-300MB) is too little, but the next step up (usually 2-3 GB) is too much.


People clearly want pooled data if we're moving to per byte wireless. However, shifting away from the existing model, which is carefully designed to get everyone paying as much money as possible, has clearly confounded both companies. Both AT&T and Verizon will introduce new plans that try to give the impression of value, without eroding existing profits. In other words, expect oodles of caveats when these options finally arrive later this year.

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