How do Verizon's new rates stack against the competition?

How do Verizon's new rates stack against the competition?
Verizon has launched a new iteration of its rate plans, the MORE Everything Plans make things a little more competitive on behalf of Big Red. These new plans are similar to AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plans with a couple key differences as one might expect.

Verizon added some tiers of data pools for individuals and families. Also added was extra cloud storage (25GB) and unlimited international messaging. Verizon also provides discounts for lines of service where the devices were purchased using Verizon Edge, the company’s upgrade program.

As with any “new” plan, it is worth doing a bit of research and comparison work to see which carrier is driving the best value for the money. Verizon’s plans most closely mirror the plan structure of AT&T. T-Mobile and Sprint rate plans are distinct amongst themselves.

Comparing these new rates means that we have to clarify some of the scenarios we examined. T-Mobile does not have as many tiers of data and Sprint’s only financially comparable option is, “unlimited.” We also did not account for equipment costs since Sprint retired its One Up program in January (two-year contracts are the only option) and the differences between the other three carriers’ installment plans are not that big. However, since AT&T and Verizon’s plan pricing discounts are based on either installment plans or no-contract for equipment, we built these plans based on whichever provided the most advantageous pricing. We also did not account for taxes, activation or upgrade fees.

Just as we did in December, we picked a few different scenarios to compare. Since these new plans are centered around smartphones, we kept these comparisons focused on smartphones:

              1. Individual smartphone with 2GB of data
              2. Two smartphones sharing 6GB of data
              3. Four smartphones sharing 10GB of data
              4. Five smartphones sharing 20GB of data

With the formalities out of the way, turn the page and we will see if Big Red is getting in the mix of things.

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One smartphone and 2GB of data

CarrierPlanPlan CostPer Line CostTotal Plan Cost
AT&TMobile Share Value$55.00$25.00$80.00
SprintUnlimited My Way*$80.00n/a$80.00
T-MobileSimple Choice**$60.00n/a$60.00
VerizonMORE Everything$50.00$30.00$80.00
*$30 unlimited data option selected and included as part of the plan cost
**2.5GB data option selected

For the person that is shipping for themselves, it pays to shop around. Rate plans with just about any
carrier contain better value when there is more than one line of service involved. For some folks that is just not in the cards though.

In this particular case, T-Mobile is the sole carrier with anything different to offer. The rest of the gang may as well make up an $80-club. When considering this option, coverage and the differences there would be should you decide to add a tablet or other device to your account are probably worth looking into.

Two smartphones sharing 6GB of data

CarrierPlanPlan CostPer Line CostTotal Plan Cost
AT&TMobile Share Value$80.00$25.00$130.00
SprintUnlimited My Way*$90.00$30.00$150.00
T-MobileSimple Choice**$100.00$0.00$100.00
VerizonMORE Everything$80.00$30.00$140.00
*$30 unlimited data option selected and shown as a per-line item
**2.5GB data option selected

Another common scenario is for a couple of smartphones on a plan. Again, T-Mobile remains the price leader and Sprint takes the unenviable position of most expensive. Verizon and AT&T make up the middle of the pack.

Four smartphones sharing 10GB of data

CarrierPlanPlan CostPer Line CostTotal Plan Cost
AT&TMobile Share Value$100.00$15.00$160.00
SprintUnlimited My Way*$140.00$30.00$260.00
T-MobileSimple Choice**$140.00$0.00$140.00
VerizonMORE Everything$100.00$20.00$180.00
*Unlimited data option selected and shown as a per-line item
**2.5GB data option selected

As we venture into more serious amounts of data, we can see where the value begins to reveal itself. Sprint’s rate plans are distinctive in that the more lines you add, the less expensive each line charge gets. Sprint and T-Mobile do not have plans where multiple phones share a pool of data. On a per-device basis, Sprint’s Unlimited My Way plans offer two data options, 1GB or “unlimited.”  For T-Mobile, we selected the 2.5GB option because it fit a 10GB model for four phones, even though it may not fit the usage pattern of a family of four.  Should you selected unlimited data for all four devices on T-Mobile, the monthly fee is $180.

With each of the scenarios we selected, we opted for that option since it made the most sense from a cost comparison perspective relative to the amount of available data being purchased. That will be something to consider when shopping for service. That said, the price disparity between Sprint and the competition is impossible to ignore.

Verizon and AT&T fill out the middle, though AT&T has the advantage.

Five smartphones sharing 20GB of data

CarrierPlanPlan CostPer Line CostTotal Plan Cost
AT&TMobile Share Value$150.00$15.00$225.00
SprintUnlimited My Way*$160.00$30.00$310.00
T-MobileSimple Choice**$210.00$0.00$210.00
VerizonMORE Everything$150.00$20.00$250.00
*Unlimited data option selected and shown as a per-line item
**Unlimited data option selected and per-line costs decrease as aggregated

Five smartphones sharing 20GB leans a bit on the heavy usage side, but it is not an impossible scenario. Verizon’s new plan structure brings it closer to the price leaders that are AT&T and T-Mobile, separated by only $15 per month.

Verizon’s new rate structure brings America’s largest carrier into a much more competitive position with AT&T and T-Mobile. Like with any plan however there is some fine print, primarily that Verizon’s discounted line rate is available only if you purchase a device using VZ Edge. If you bring your own device, or buy equipment off contract, the line discount does not apply.

AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plans provide the line discount under any circumstance where a 2-year contract is not involved, customers can bring their own device, buy one on AT&T Next, or pay full retail.  AT&T, while still reacting to the market changes initiated by T-Mobile, is taking a more pro-active position with its services.  In just two months, America's second largest carrier made changes to its rates to become more competitive with T-Mobile, leaving Verizon and Sprint in the dust at the time.

Sprint stands alone in that it no longer offers a device installment program, opting only for 2-year service agreements. While Verizon and AT&T also offer two-year service options, Sprint has historically had more aggressive subsidized pricing. Premium devices can be found on the Sprint’s web-site at significant discounts versus other carriers. Still, the rate plans are outside the norm versus the competitive trend. We are waiting for Sprint to join the party.

T-Mobile, the company that started this whole wireless revolution in the United States, remains the price leader. When it comes to service plans, Team Magenta, headed up by Cheerleader-in-Chief John Legere, is still in the spotlight. Its JUMP! Upgrade program is what started the wave of device installment payment programs. The only difference with JUMP! is that T-Mobile requires mobile insurance and protection plans, which puts a $10 per month premium.

Verizon’s new rate structure keeps it in the price game. Despite the similarities that are emerging from the carriers, the differences that do exist, though nuanced, are significant and it is worth looking at those differences to see which carrier has more of what you want.  As deferred payment plans for ever-more-expensive equipment become the norm, we can expect to continue to see price plans become more and more attractive.

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