Terry currently has a Nexus 4G from Verizon which is less than a year old. But he’s already looking to the future of mobile plans, and for longtime Verizon customers like him, that means a choice. He can pay full retail price for his next phone, or surrender his beloved unlimited data plan and switch to one of Verizon’s new “share everything” plans. He doesn’t like either option, and will have to leave Verizon.
Robert has his eye on a shiny new smartphone, and he’s eligible for an upgrade. He’s on a family plan, and has devised a scheme to take advantage of some promotions. These promotions are intended for new Verizon customers, so his plan is to discontinue one of the lines on his account, and start a new one in order to get the discounts and perks that come with a “new” line. He wonders: has anyone else out there tried this and succeeded?
When Zach bought iPhones for his parents and added them to his AT&T plan, someone made a mistake. One of the new phones became the primary line on the account, Zach’s phone became one of the secondary lines, and this messed up his ability to upgrade to a shiny new iPhone of his own so he could FaceTime video conference just like his super-cool parents. Only that’s not how things work at AT&T Wireless. Zach was told that no one in the entire company has the power to fix this error. Not the customer service reps. Not the managers. Not the CEO. Not even the combined forces of Seal Team Six and the ghost of Steve Jobs could undo this error committed by a single authorized AT&T dealer employee somewhere in the Western United States.
Michael’s daughter has a phone on the family plan, and he’d like to do something to it that seems simple enough. He wants to block her phone from all use during school hours, except for the numbers she would need in an emergency. Except the system doesn’t work that way. For some reason that no one understands, phones can only be disabled in certain blocks, and during certain times the main account holder can’t limit the phone’s use at all. Some of these times happen to conveniently fall during the hours when Michael’s daughter is at school. He’s not the only one with this problem.
The point of having a smartphone that can use wi-fi networks is so the device uses less data, right? Especially at night, when you’re at home snoozing, enveloped in the comforting waves of your home Internet connection. Yet Anthony’s phone and his father’s phone sneak off, accessing the mobile data network in the wee hours of the morning and pushing them over the limits of their T-Mobile data plan. They could just turn the phones off at night, but this is far from their only problem with these phones. Far. But T-Mobile won’t let them have different, functional phones or cut them loose.
With the pending AT*T/T-Mobile merger threatening to push Verizon Wireless out of the lead in the mobile melee, the company is looking for ways to differentiate itself from its (shrinking number of) competitors. That includes the idea of offering family plans for data that would save families money on smartphone costs.
Netflix was sitting around looking at its money when it realized that it didn’t quite have enough to do the whole Scrooge McDuck swimming maneuver, so the video giant has come up with an idea: “family plans” that allow you to stream more than one program at once.
Yesterday, Walmart announced that starting next week it will offer a new wireless plan under its own brand, but running on T-Mobile’s network. The rates are good compared to national carriers: $45 per month for unlimited texting and minutes, and $25 per month for each additional line. There’s also no contract, and you pay the bill at the end of each month instead of loading up a pre-pay account. It’s one of the better family-style deals available, except for one thing: the data plans are actually more expensive than AT&T or T-Mobile.