Who wins, who loses with the new shared data plans

Verizon's Share Everything plan is a harbinger of things to come, with surprising comparisons to what you're paying today

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Time to revisit your cellular service
Verizon's move is sure to be followed by similar pricing changes by the other three major carriers: AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. It's a good time to do your own analysis of your data plans.

The new shared-data approach essentially eliminates the advantage of having parents and siblings on a family plan. Everyone is now free to choose the better carrier where they live and not compromise service quality to get free family minutes or low extra-line charges.

The shared-data pricing may justify some family members staying on a common plan, but the benefit of doing so is not as obvious as was the case for voice and messaging plans. The best candidates for data-plan sharing are those who use about half of their current data plan's allotment. Note that dealing with data overages could be quite messy, especially if you get reimbursement for work usage; it can be hard to show the work activity required more data, though you can see each device's data usage on the Verizon website.

Still, before you adopt any plan, it behooves you to consider a pay-as-you-go option, available for iPhones, Android devices, Windows Phones, and -- on AT&T and Verizon -- iPads. My colleague Bill Snyder has shown that such plans can save you $500 per year per iPhone.

U.S. cellular contract data plans compared
Note: The prices below assume 450 voice minutes per single user, 700 per couple, and 2,100 per family, and they use closest carrier options to these figures. BlackBerrys using corporate email via BES cost $15 more per device per month. Adding unlimited messaging to a limited-minutes (the "simple" plans below) in a Verizon Shared Everything plan costs $10 per month.

Green = cheapest plan in class; red = costliest plan

 Verizon (current plans) Verizon (Shared Everything) AT&T SprintT-Mobile
Digital single $110 $110 $120 $145 $110
1 smartphone $70 $40 $70 $110 $70
1 tablet $20 $10 $30 $35 $40
2GB data Included $60 Included Included Included
Messaging $20 Included $20 Included Included
 
Simple single $40 $40 $40 $40 $40
1 cellphone $40 $40 $40 $40$40
 
Digital couple $230 $170 $220 $280 $250
2 smartphones $160 $80 $130 $210 $170
2 tablets $40 $20 $60 $70 $80
4GB data Included $70 Included Included Included
Messaging $30 Included $30 Included Included
 
Semi-digital couple $180 $150 $160 $185 $180
2 smartphones $160 $80 $130 $150 $140
1 tablet $20 $10 $30 $35 $40
2GB data Included $60 Included Included Included
 
Simple couple $70 $70 $70 $70 $60
2 cellphones $70 $70 $70 $70 $60
 
Digital family $290 $310 $380 $320 $340
5 smartphones $220 $200 $290 $250 $260
2 tablets $40 $20 $60 $70 $80
8GB data Included $90 Included Included Included
Messaging $30 Included $30 Included Included
 
Semi-digital family $260 $250 $290 $320 $280
2 smartphones $160 $80 $170 $190 $170
3 cellphones $30 $90 $30 $60 $30
2 tablets $40 $20 $60 $70 $80
2GB data Included $60 Included Included Included
Messaging $30 Included $30 Included Included
 
Semi-digital family
(no messaging)

$210 $240 $230 $245 $240
2 smartphones $160 $80 $170 $150 $170
3 cellphones $30 $90 $30 $60 $30
1 tablet $20 $10 $30 $35 $40
2GB data Included $60 Included Included Included
 
Simple family $160 $190 $170 $180 $130
5 cellphones $130 $190 $140 $180 $130
Messaging $30 Included $30 Included Included

This article, "Who wins, who loses with the new shared data plans," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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