Verizon expects to introduce shared data plans by this summer

February 28, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka



Verizon will likely introduce shared data plans by mid 2012, CFO Fran Shammo said at an investor conference on Monday. Shammo didn’t give many details about the oft-discussed introduction of family data plans, but he did confirm that such options will be an important part of Verizon’s LTE network strategy.

FierceWireless obtained a transcript of Shammo’s comments at the conference, and quoted him as saying:

“This is going to be a long-term migration into where we want to get data plan sharing, but this will be more of a 4G play for us and I think it will be critical for us. And you’ll see something launched–even [Verizon CEO] Lowell [McAdam] alluded to it–you’ll see something launched mid-year this year from us.”

Shared data plans would allow customers to pay for one data package and split its use among various devices. A family of four could then have a combined 20 GB of data that everyone could share rather than limit each phone to 5 GB. That way, the Mom and Dad who only use 1 GB each could donate their remaining data to kids who are more likely to watch Netflix, video chat, stream music, and do other activities that consume more data. (I’ve been on family plans on Sprint where I accounted for the vast majority of data consumed.)

It could also come in handy for single-plan users with multiple devices. I currently have a Galaxy Nexus on Verizon and tether when I need to use data on my Galaxy Tab 10.1, but I limit that activity because I don’t want to consume too much data. I would never sign-up for a contract on my tablet, but if Verizon had a reasonable price for combined devices, I’d be more willing to consider it.

AT&T and Sprint have also flirted with the idea of shared data plans, but Verizon is the first to explicitly state when it will introduce it. Expect to see offers made to new and existing subscribers in late spring or early summer.