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Oh My Tech!: New Verizon plan isn't a deal for everyone

Published June 14, 2012 9:00 pm

Service that multiple devices and users can share actually limits choices.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Earlier this week, Verizon Wireless announced a major shift in pricing plans for its mobile phones. I've read a couple of news stories about what those new plans are but they were confusing to me. So I called Verizon to have someone explain the new prices.

I'm going to lay it out for you in a few simple words. Many of you are screwed.

That's because in some cases, when the new pricing plans take place at the end of this month, you will end up paying more for roughly the same service. Some might pay less. But in the end, what Verizon really takes away from us is choice.

Here's how the plans work.

They are set up more like shared family plans, in which everything is unlimited voice minutes and texting that everyone on the account shares. There no longer will be "limited" plans in which you, say, have a limit of 450 minutes per month.

If you just use one phone, say a smartphone, it will first cost $40 a month for unlimited voice and texting. If you want to get data on top of that, you also have to pay $50 per month for 1 gigabyte, $60 for 2 gigs, $70 for 4 gigs, etc.

Now, if you want to add another phone to the plan, you must pay another $40 if it's a smartphone or $30 for a basic featureless phone. The phones would then all share the unlimited texts and voice minutes, and share the bucket of data. So, for example, if you have three smartphones with 2GB of data, that would be $120 for the voice and text, and then $60 for the data that they would share.

When comparing to the old plans, customers on limited voice plans could pay at least $10 to $20 per month more for the new plans. Going to the new plans might be cheaper, however, for those people with unlimited voice and text plans already.

But if you're like me, someone who doesn't need unlimited voice minutes, the new plans are not an added value.

Customers can stay with their old pricing plans when Verizon changes over to the new prices later this month. But once you add another person in the family to the account with a new phone, that person has to buy one of the new plans. Again, customers are stuck with fewer choices.

If the company wants to add value and make us happy, lower the price of the data plans a little, especially now that data usage on mobile phones and tablets is growing with streaming movie and music services. Data usage will become even more popular when Apple allows FaceTime videoconferencing over cellular networks with its next iOS update in the fall (at present, you can only access FaceTime on a Wi-Fi connection).

Unfortunately, it's been reported that the other cellular carriers will eventually go to a pricing structure similar to Verizon's. But I'm afraid that services such as these — whether they be for mobile phones, cable TV or high-speed Internet — will only go up as they continue to nickel-and-dime us to death.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to http://www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech. —

Verizon's new prices for cellular service

You first must pay this amount for each device you add to the plan for unlimited voice and texting (up to 10 devices):

Smartphone • $40

Basic phone • $30

Laptop or mobile hotspot device • $20

Tablet • $10

If you want data, you then pay this additional amount per month. All devices on the plan can share this data:

1 gigabyte (GB) • $50

2GB • $60

4GB • $70

6GB • $80

8GB • $90