Family plans for voice minutes have long been available for cell phone subscribers, but what about data? For now, at least, the big U.S. carriers are still charging each member of a family for their own data plans, even if all their voice minutes are pooled together—an expensive proposition, given that smartphone data plans go for anywhere from $15 to $30 a month.
But a Verizon executive just let slip that the carrier is (finally) thinking of adding family data plans to their menu of options. Details are still up in the air—there’s still no word on pricing or exact timing—but Reuters reports that Verizon Wireless may get family-friendly with data after it does away with its $30/month unlimited smartphone plans, which is expected to happen this summer.
The proposed family data plans could be seen as a way to “soften the blow” (as Reuterrs puts it) of replacing Verizon’s popular, unlimited smartphone plans with metered plans, said Verizon CFO Fran Shammo, who added:
“I think it’s safe to assume that at some point you are going to have mega-plans (for data) and people are going to share that mega-plan based on the number of devices within their family. That’s just a logical progression,” he said, but did not provide a time frame for such mega-plans.
Allowing families to share cellular data is, indeed, a “logical” idea, although whether it’s a sensible one depends on the fine print: how much monthly data for how much cash per month, what are the overage charges, and so on.
And what about the other big carriers, like AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile? Well, where one carrier goes, the others typically follow, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest of the Big Four make like Verizon if and when the carrier makes good on its a family data promises.