Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett calls Verizon Wireless’ new Share Everything fee plan “the most profound change to pricing (that) the telecom industry has seen in twenty years.” But entertainment companies will want to know whether the arrangement will encourage or discourage video streaming and downloading on smartphones and tablets. Under the new plan, which begins June 28, customers will pay for a certain amount of gigabytes of data transmission per month that can be used for voice calls, text messages, video streams — almost anything. The service also can cover up to 10 devices: Although customers will have to pay a monthly fee for each device added, someone with a smartphone and a tablet won’t need to subscribe to two data plans. Receivers also can serve as mobile hotspots — feeding Internet data to other devices — without an additional fee. (Separate accounts are still needed for basic phones and USB modems.) Verizon customers who currently pay $30 a month for unlimited data can keep that plan — but the company won’t subsidize a new phone when the contract is up. Verizon says it’s responding to customer demands for more flexibility. Moffett says that AT&T will introduce a similar plan soon. It makes sense for them, he says, because it provides an incentive for family members to sign up with a single wireless carrier. “In a household with two or three AT&T or Verizon devices – say, a smartphone and a tablet or two, and one device from T-Mobile or Sprint… Sprint doesn’t stand a chance.”
Michael Weinberg, Senior Staff Attorney at activist group Public Knowledge, says that “Verizon customers will now pay more for much less….One year ago consumers could pay $30 for unlimited data. Today, it costs them $50 to get 1 GB per month.” And Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood says the arrangement shows “just how uncompetitive the market for wireless services has become, as Verizon and AT&T gobble up spectrum, tie more products together and lock customers into bad deals… Even before using any shared data, a family of four would have to pay $160 each and every month just to connect four smartphones to Verizon’s network. Imagine the power company offering you a shared electricity plan but charging you more for every device you plug into an outlet.”
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