And let's admit it, cell phone carriers are modern Picasos!

Yesterday Verizon Wireless unveiled their "Share Everything" plans. These were supposed to what everyone had been asking for; finally shared data usage between multiple lines on your plan! Having four smartphones on my AT&T bill, I have been practically begging for this type of service for some time now.

Except... that wasn't what they were about. Sure, you get shared data from the plans - but in order to justifiably charge you way more money than necessary, the plans also include unlimited minutes and text. Yes, we have unlimited texting on our plan - but it's only $30/mo for all 4 devices. But, on average, we probably use no more than 200-250 minutes per month - of our 700 minute plan.

Which, by the way, we were REQUIRED to upgrade to from the 550 minute plan when we added the 4th device. We were perfectly fine with our 550 minute plan before that - but no. We wanted to add another device and the only way you could have 4 devices is with a 700 minute plan. So now we use maybe 1/3 of the minutes each month and have 4500 rollover minutes. But I digress...

For comparison sake, I'm going to compare our usage/plan with what Verizon is now offering. So here's a quick rundown of what we have on AT&T right now:

  • 700 minute FamilyTalk: $60
  • Unlimited Family Text: $30
  • 2GB Data: $25 (avg usage < 1GB)
  • 2nd Line: $10
  • 2GB Data: $25 (avg usage < 1GB)
  • 3rd Line: $10
  • 200MB Data: $15
  • 4th Line: $10 (though it also increased our voice plan from $50 to $60 when we added this)
  • 200MB Data: $15
  • TOTAL: $200 (pre-tax)

So that's where we're at right now. Our total average data usage is right around 2GB per month between all devices - though I would probably want the 4GB shared plan for the extra buffer. With Verizon's new shared data, this would now look like this:

  • Smartphone 1: $40
  • Smartphone 2: $40
  • Smartphone 3: $40
  • Smartphone 4: $40
  • 4GB Shared Data: $70
  • TOTAL: $230

To be fair... I did go through and price what my current plan on AT&T would cost me on Verizon - but there's one problem... I have 2 data plans for 200MB. Verizon's smallest is 75MB - which is a) only for dumb phones and b) not enough for the two lines I have. Their next option is 2GB at $30 each. So it's $120 for 8GB of data from Verizon for my current setup (vs $80 for 4.4GB with AT&T). The total Verizon cost (NOT using shared data) for my existing plan would be $240 (my current AT&T plan with the same 8GB of data I'd have to have on Verizon would cost me $220 in total - so AT&T is still cheaper)

So here's the thing... Apples to Oranges, Share Everything would screw me if I changed to Verizon to get their shared data. My payment would go up $30/mo. Apples to apples, if I were on Verizon right now and then changed to Share Everything, I would SAVE $10/mo. But I think even that $10 is a bit deceptive given what I was just saying about their lowest data plans and having to pay for 2GB when I didn't need to.

My biggest gripe with these plans is actually 2 things:

1) I have absolutely NO NEED for unlimited minutes. Most of our minutes don't count right now anyway with unlimited mobile to mobile. The thought of purchasing a plan with them JUST to get unlimited data would infuriate me. And the fact that the unlimited talk/text is now the major selling point of these plans infuriates me even more when I think that DATA is supposed to be the focal point here.

2) The cost for the shared data is ABSURD. If you had a single device on Verizon today and had a 2 GB data plan, that data would cost you $30/mo. If you want that same 2 GB of data on a Share Everything plan (regardless of how many devices are using it), suddenly, it's twice the price at $60. What possible reason could someone provide that would justify charging twice as much money for the same amount of data? Yes, I'm also aware that the "portable hotspot" is now included... but I don't care. It's not a feature I need and/or use. And to try to sell it to me to justify a ridiculous price is stupid.

The short version is this: Now I'm scared of what AT&T might do. Like I said, I really DO NOT CARE about minutes. I'll keep paying the same price for minutes if I can (ideally I'd have less minutes even) - but just give me a shared data option. Let me have 4 GB of data for $50 or $60 and THAT'S IT. No need to change my calling plan or reinvent the wheel. Just let all of my devices use the same data for one price that is slightly less than I pay now. Isn't that what the whole "shared data" idea was supposed to be about?

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