Let's be honest. It was only a matter of time before Verizon followed AT&T's lead and dropped unlimited data plans in favor of a tiered structure. It's not all bad news, though. There is also some evidence that Verizon may soon offer shared data plans.
Speaking at the Reuters Global Technology Summit, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo hinted at the concept of sharing a single pool of data, but didn't offer any details or timeline. Shammo said, "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."
I have to agree it seems logical from my point of view. I am with AT&T rather than Verizon, but currently I have three different smartphones and a tablet, all with separate data plans. If each device was subscribed to a 2GB data plan, I would be paying $100 a month for 8GB of combined bandwidth.
But, because the data plans are all separate, I could have two devices that only use 500MB each, and two devices that use 3.1GB each, and I would end up paying $140 even though I would actually be using less than 8GB total. The two plans that go over the 2GB allocation will each accrue an additional $10 fee per 1GB.
It makes more sense for me to buy a pool of data that I can share between devices. In fact, I will take it a step farther and say that I think providers like Verizon and AT&T should offer data pools that include home broadband data consumption as well all in one huge pool for any device that consumes data. As a bonus, AT&T should offer rollover megabytes the same way it currently offers rollover minutes on voice plans.
The quote from Shammo was limited specifically to Family Plans, but Verizon, AT&T, and others need to keep in mind that businesses--especially small and medium businesses--need similar solutions to help cost-effectively manage data consumption. Ideally, a business version of shared data would include administrative tools to provision, allocate, and monitor data consumption on the fly. IT admins should be able to view how much data is being consumed by devices on the plan.