Verizon, ATandT Family Data Plans Will Need Business Manager Attention

NEWS ANALYSIS: Group-sharing rate plans from Verizon Wireless and AT&T are attractive for families with a lot of mobile data devices, but they work for only the smallest businesses. But that doesn’t mean businesses don’t need to understand them.

The current debate that€™s swirling around the new rate plans that put voice and data into a single family pool from which several people with devices can draw may be great for families. But that depends on the family, how many wireless devices that need access to the data plans that they have and how much they use those devices. For some families, these plans can save a lot of money, for others, not so much.

But neither AT&T€™s Mobile Share Plan nor Verizon Wireless€™ Share Everything plan makes much sense for businesses of any real size. These plans have limits of up to 10 devices, and that means that either your company can€™t be very big, or you€™ll have to start dividing your employees into sharing groups€”a task that can be complex when you have employees come and go.

So while your employees are debating whether or not AT&T or Verizon Wireless has the best deal or whether they€™ll save money or not on their personal family sharing plans, chances are you won€™t care very much. That€™s until those employees come to you with their spreadsheets, lists of devices and a load of pent-up frustration. At least, you€™re not personally invested.

But eventually you will be. Unless your company is one of those that provides mobile devices to employees, then you€™re going to start seeing your employees who are part of your BYOD program coming to you about their reimbursements. This means you€™ll have to change your policy to how you pay your employees for their phone charges, since it won€™t be based on individual usage, or at least not exactly.

The advantage to you is that your employees will be charged a single rate per device that€™s not based on usage. It€™ll just be a flat fee. So you can base your reimbursement on that for employees who have one of these family plans. The good news is that the cost will probably be lower than what you€™re reimbursing now.

The bad news is the same as the good news. These plans aren€™t based on individual usage, so you aren€™t reimbursing an employee based on calling they did for your company, you€™re reimbursing them for their share of a family pool. Because the rate plans require some detailed analysis, it€™s likely that many of your employees will simply pick an unlimited rate. But still, the cost for reimbursement may be lower than what you€™re paying now.

On the other hand, if you€™re trying to control costs when you reimburse your employees, you might also want to suggest other carriers and other plans. There€™s been considerable discussion about Verizon€™s plan since the company isn€™t offering a nonsharing plan for new customers.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...