Engadget is reporting that Verizon will begin offering shared data plans in 2012, allowing families and devices to share one pool of data.
There are two big use cases that people want shared data for. First, families have been sharing minutes for years, so why not data? By allowing familes to share data, more people will get smartphones. A lot of people are reluctant to dabble in using data for $30 a month (Verizon’s monthly charge for 2 GB of 3G data and the only data plan they offer on smartphones). 2 GB of 3G data is more than the vast majority of people need on their smartphones, especially first-time smartphone owners. AT&T says that 65 percent of their smartphone customers use less than 200 MB of data a month.
The second use case is for sharing data between multiple devices. Instead of purchasing a data plan for each device — say a smartphone, tablet and mobile wifi device — users could purchase one pool of data and use it across all of their devices. I used to have a data plan on my iPad, but I got tired of managing two different data accounts — one for my iPad and another for my iPhone. It was getting really expensive, and I would often use up the data on my iPad and have plenty of data remaining on my iPhone. Now the iPhone offers the ability to tether data from the iPhone to the iPad, and I do use that from time to time, but it’s a great way to drain your phone’s battery and not as good of solution as sharing a pool of data between my iPhone and iPad.
If I could buy a giant pool of wireless data and use it across a bunch of devices, I would. Instead, I have cut down on my data usage because it was getting too expensive and too difficult to manage several different accounts with the same company, all while I was having too much data on one device and not enough on another.