It's a data-rich world and the wireless companies want you to live in it. But they also want you to play by a new set of rules.
Verizon Wireless is the first major carrier to take the plunge. The company says it's ditching nearly all its existing phone contracts and replacing them with plans that encourage customers to connect their non-phone devices, such as iPads, to the Verizon network.
Verizon's "Share Everything" plans will become available June 28. They include unlimited phone calls and texts and will start at $90 per month for one smartphone and 1 gigabyte of data. Adding a tablet will cost an extra $10 per month. Adding a USB data stick for a laptop will cost $20.
This will probably be attractive for many people. It will allow multiple devices on a single contract, with incremental price increases based on data usage.
But it will also mean keeping a sharp eye on how much data you consume. Go over that 1-gigabyte limit and you'll be looking at extra charges (an additional $15 per gigabyte).
If you already have a Verizon wireless plan and don't want to change, no worries. You can stay where you are. If you're a new customer, your only other choice would be a no-frills plan for $40 a month that includes 700 minutes of calling time but no texting or data.
Wireless customers can expect Verizon's new approach to soon be the industry norm. AT&T, for its part, says it's looking at a similar arrangement for its customers.
Me, I get the idea of charging heavy data users higher prices than lighter users. That makes sense. But a starting price of $90 a month?
That seems a tad steep.