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Associated Press
A woman uses an iPhone at a Verizon store in Mountain View, Calif. Verizon Wireless announced Tuesday that it is dropping nearly all of its phone plans in favor of plans that encourage consumers to connect their non-phone devices.

Verizon revamps pricing plans

Changes aim to get patrons to connect non-phone devices

– Verizon Wireless is phasing out nearly all of its existing phone plans and replacing them with plans that let families and other subscribers share a monthly data allowance over as many as 10 devices.

The revamped plans, available June 28, are meant to encourage customers to connect their non-phone devices, like tablets and PCs, to the Verizon network. Calls and text messages are unlimited. Subscribers pay for two things: the pool of wireless data they use every month, and the devices they add to the plan. Prices start at $90 for one smartphone with a 1 gigabyte a month minimum amount of data.

Q. Will Verizon convert me to a new plan, or can I keep my old plan?

A. Verizon won’t switch you over to the new plan unless you ask. You can keep your old plan, even if you trade up to a new phone after that date and extend your contract. But for new customers, Share Everything will be the only alternative, with a few exceptions, starting June 28.

Q. What type of customer should move to the new plan?

A. If you already have unlimited calling and texting plans, the new plans are likely to save you money, especially if you have a family plan. If you have a tablet, the new pricing scheme could be a good idea too. Even if your tablet doesn’t have a cellular modem, you may be able to take advantage of the plan, because it lets you create a “mobile hotspot” with your smartphone, so you can go online with your Wi-Fi-only tablet.

Q. What if I have an “unlimited data” plan? If I want to, can I keep it?

A. Yes, you can. But – and there’s a big “but” here – Verizon will no longer let you move the plan to a new phone after June 28, unless you pay the full, unsubsidized price for it. For most smartphones that will add hundreds of dollars to the price. A subsidized Verizon iPhone 4S costs $200. The price you’ll pay if you keep your unlimited plan: $650.

Q. I have a phone and tablet, but they’re on different carriers. Can this plan work for me?

A. Probably not. The plan encourages you to use only Verizon-compatible devices. But if you have a Verizon smartphone and an AT&T iPad, you could cancel the AT&T service and use the hotspot mode mentioned above. It’s just not as convenient has having direct cellular access on the iPad.

Q. I don’t need a fancy data plan. I just want a regular phone, with no frills. Are the calling-only plans going away?

A. Almost. There will be only one plan for basic phones. It costs $40 per month and gives you 700 minutes of calling. Texting and data will cost extra. For this type of phone, there are cheaper, no-contract alternatives from many companies.

Q. I’m single and I just want a smartphone, that’s it. The cheapest Shared Everything plan looks expensive at $90 per month, and that’s with just 1 gigabyte of data. Is there no alternative?

A. There’s one cheaper plan, intended for first-time smartphone buyers. It gives you unlimited calling and texting, and just 300 megabytes of data per month. If you’re frugal with data usage, it costs $80 a month.

Q. Is this the future? Are all phone plans going to be this way?

A. AT&T is likely to go in this direction as well. It makes sense for phone companies to meter only the data usage. They can easily provide unlimited texting and calling, but data usage stresses their network. They also want to get as many new, non-phone devices as possible on their networks, and, for customers, shared data plans are cheaper than putting each device on a new plan. That said, there’s likely to be a wide variety of phone plans.