Verizon’s Revamped Shared Data Plans

Verizon used to offer several different plans with shared pools of data. The carrier has now simplified its offerings with only two shared data plans. Both plans include unlimited minutes and texts. The cheaper plan offers 5GB of shared data. The more expensive plan offers 10GB of shared data.

For customers who enroll in paperless billing and Auto Pay, The 5GB plan costs $30 per month plus $25 for each line. The 10GB plan costs $40 per month plus $25 for each line.

Customers that don’t enroll in Auto Pay and paperless billing will be charged $10 more every month on each line.


  • Two lines on the 5GB plan would cost $80 per month with Auto Pay and paperless billing. That would include the $30 base charge for the plan and two $25 line-access fees.
  • Three lines on the $10 GB plan would cost $105 per month with Auto Pay and paperless billing (a $40 base charge plus $75 in line-access fees).
Abstract art about the idea of updates

Verizon’s Updates To Prepaid Plans

Verizon recently updated the structure of its prepaid plans. This update was needed. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Verizon’s old structure for prepaid plans was confusing and difficult for consumers to make sense of.

Main new phone plans

Verizon now offers three primary prepaid phone plans. All three plans come with unlimited minutes and texts. The plans vary in their monthly data allotments:

  • Unlimited – $65 base price
  • 15GB – $50 base price
  • 5GB – $40 base price

Several discounts are available. Customers that enroll in automatic payments can save $5 per line each month after the first month of service. Verizon has also introduced loyalty discounts on these plans. After three months of service, a $5 per line discount kicks in each month. The loyalty discount jumps to $10 per line each month after nine months of service.

Here are the monthly prices a long-term customer eligible for all the discounts would end up paying (before taxes and fees):

  • Unlimited – $50
  • 15GB – $35
  • 5GB – $25

Verizon has dropped the multi-line discounts it used to offer on prepaid accounts with more than one line.

Other plans

Verizon offers a somewhat-hidden talk and text plan (no high-speed data) with a base price of $35 per month. The plan is eligible for the automatic payments discount but is not eligible for loyalty discounts.

Three data plans are available for tablet and hotspot devices. Customers on these plans are eligible for a $5 per month autopay discount.

  • 6GB – $40 base price
  • 16GB – $50 base price
  • 30GB – $70 base price

Switching promo

Verizon is offering an online-only promo on the 15GB plan. Customers that switch to the plan can get a $60 bill credit. Here are the terms:1

Requires new port in phone activation. Must be active on a 15 GB or Unlimited Verizon Prepaid plan for the first 2 months. $60 service credit applied to Account Owner immediately after 2nd monthly plan payment. Offer not available for tablets or Jetpacks.
5G abstract

5G+ Brilliant Marketing From AT&T?

A while back, AT&T began calling some its 4G service 5GE. It tricked consumers into thinking they were getting 5G when they weren’t. It was bullshit.

Now, AT&T is calling its millimeter wave (mmWave) service 5G+. In some ways, the 5G+ label could confuse consumers. Verizon’s 5G service uses pretty much exclusively mmWave right now. Verizon doesn’t call its mmWave service “5G+.” To Verizon, mmWave is just “5G.”

Still, I’m not annoyed by AT&T’s 5G+ branding. Not all 5G is the same. Lower frequency, sub-6 5G, is typically way slower than mmWave 5G. Laypeople don’t realize how different sub-6 5G is from mmWave 5G. If we want consumers to understand the difference, carriers need to help make that happen. Calling sub-6 service “5G” and mmWave service “5G+” makes a clear distinction for consumers.

Neville Ray’s Statement on T-Mobile’s Outage

Yesterday, Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile, shared more information about the cause of T-Mobile’s outage on Monday:

Many of our customers experienced a voice and text issue yesterday, specifically with VoLTE (Voice over LTE) calling…The trigger event is known to be a leased fiber circuit failure from a third party provider in the Southeast. This is something that happens on every mobile network, so we’ve worked with our vendors to build redundancy and resiliency to make sure that these types of circuit failures don’t affect customers. This redundancy failed us and resulted in an overload situation that was then compounded by other factors. This overload resulted in an IP traffic storm that spread from the Southeast to create significant capacity issues across the IMS (IP multimedia Subsystem) core network that supports VoLTE calls.

We have worked with our IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and IP vendors to add permanent additional safeguards to prevent this from happening again and we’re continuing to work on determining the cause of the initial overload failure.

So, I want to personally apologize for any inconvenience that we created yesterday and thank you for your patience as we worked through the situation toward resolution.

In Hindsight: T-Mobile’s Network Outage

Yesterday, T-Mobile experienced a serious network outage beginning around 10am MT. The outage persisted through most of the day and primarily affected voice and text services.

Around 11pm MT, T-Mobile announced that outage was over:

These issues are now resolved. We again apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

What caused the outage?

A lot of speculation was floating around yesterday. Some Twitter users, including a congressman, suggested there was a huge distributed denial-of-service attack causing trouble for U.S. networks. This story never made much sense.

Others speculated that a massive network failure was causing issues for all the major cellular operators. This idea was based on information from the website Downdetector, an entity that aggregates user complaints in real-time. Downdetector suggested that customer complaints about Verizon and AT&T were increasing at the same time that T-Mobile was experiencing issues.

Here’s how Downdectector describes its methodology:

Downdetector collects status reports from a series of sources, including Twitter and reports submitted on our websites and mobile apps. Our system validates and analyzes these reports in real-time, allowing us to automatically detect outages and service disruptions in their very early stages.

I expect the customer complaints about Verizon and AT&T were ultimately caused by T-Mobile’s network issues. Verizon and AT&T customers may have tried to call T-Mobile customers, then thought their own carriers (rather than T-Mobile) were at fault when calls failed.

Both AT&T and Verizon made statements suggesting that their networks were operating normally.

Updates from T-Mobile & the FCC

Yesterday evening, T-Mobile’s CEO, Mike Sievert, gave a vague explanation of what caused the outage:

T-Mobile has been experiencing a voice and text issue that has intermittently impacted customers in markets across the U.S…This is an IP traffic related issue that has created significant capacity issues in the network core throughout the day. Data services have been working throughout the day.

The outage was likely triggered as T-Mobile took steps to merge Sprint’s technology and/or customer base into the New T-Mobile. I haven’t heard any further information about the outage from a plausible-looking source, but details may come out soon. Ajit Pai, the FCC Chairman, shared the following tweet last night:

Major T-Mobile Network Outage

A major T-Mobile network outage is going on right now.

T-Mobile’s outage

T-Mobile subscribers scattered around the U.S. have been reporting that calls and texts have been failing over the last few hours.

The outage appears to be affecting more than T-Mobile’s direct customers. Subscribers with mobile virtual network operators that run over T-Mobile’s network are also reporting problems.

T-Mobile is aware of the issues. Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s President of Technology, shared the following tweet:

Neville Ray's tweet acknowledging the outage

While Ray describes it as a “voice and data issue,” most of the reports I’ve seen so far have been about issues with calls and texts.

Other companies

The website Downdetector is recording an atypical number of issues with a bunch of wireless carriers, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and a handful of other internet companies. It’s unclear if Verizon and AT&T are experiencing any issues of their own. Subscribers with these carriers may only be experiencing issues when they try to contact people on T-Mobile’s network.


At this time, I have not seen any word on what is causing the outage. I have also not seen any clear indication about when the issue is expected to be resolved.

I plan to make updates as I learn more. This may end up being one of the largest network outages in the U.S. in years.

Monday Night Update:

At 11:03pm MT, Neville Ray tweeted that the issues have been resolved:

Voice and text services are now restored. Thank you for your patience as we fixed the issues. We sincerely apologize for any and all inconveniences.
Picture of a broken phone

Is Phone Insurance Worth It?

Phone insurance usually isn’t a good deal. Companies offering phone insurance plans typically intend to make a profit. These companies profit when customers, on average, pay more into insurance programs than they get paid out.

When considering the costs of phone insurance, think in terms of a long time horizon. One of Verizon’s insurance plans, Verizon Protect, costs $17 per month. Imagine you purchase a new phone from Verizon for $600 then insure it with Verizon Protect. If you use the phone for three years and keep it insured the whole time, you’ll end up making 36 payments of $17. After three years, you’ll have spent $612 on insurance. That’s more than the original cost of the phone!


Whether phone insurance is worth it will depend on your situation:

  • How much would you have to pay for insurance?
  • What would it cost to replace your phone without insurance?
  • What sort of deductible would your insurance plan have?
  • How risk-averse are you?
  • How careful are you about protecting your phone?
  • Would phone insurance offer any added conveniences (e.g., extra-fast repairs)?


High-end phones

I recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy S20 from Verizon. The phone has a list price of about $1,000. For $17 per month, I can cover the phone with Verizon Protect. While Verizon primarily pitches that protection plan, there’s another plan called Wireless Phone Protection that offers similar coverage for only $6.85 per month.

The Wireless Phone Protection plan comes with a $200 deductible on the S20. Since it would normally cost me $1,000 to replace the S20, the insurance plan could save me up to $800.

The protection plan’s monthly fee works out to be less than 1% of the amount I would save if I lost or destroyed my phone. I’m clumsy and tend to put my phones through a lot. There’s a greater than 1% chance I’ll break or lose my S20 in any given month. Accordingly, the insurance plan would offer me good value in the short term.


Today’s high-end phones will be tomorrow’s budget phones. While the S20 has a list price of about $1,000 today, it’ll be cheaper in the future. If Verizon still sells the phone in three years, it’ll cost far less.

While the replacement cost of my phone will decline over time, the rate I pay to insure it won’t. In some cases, it can make financial sense to (a) insure a high-end phone briefly after purchase and (b) drop the insurance at a later time.

Budget phones

Most companies don’t closely match the cost of insurance plans to the value of a phone. My favorite budget-friendly phone right now is the Motorola G7 Play. It costs $130 from Motorola. Verizon’s Protect plan still costs $17 per month for the G7 Play. The Wireless Phone Protection plan still costs $6.85 per month.

The G7 Play is not worth insuring. The phone has a $9 deductible. Verizon’s insurance would only save me $121 if I lost or broke a G7 Play. In just eight months, the Verizon Protect plan would cost more than a brand new device.


In most cases, I recommend that people self-insure their phones. While the peace of mind you can get from an insurance plan is nice, the companies offering the plans usually come out ahead of consumers.

Some people will argue that self-insurance isn’t always reasonable. Today’s fancier phones are expensive. Many people would have trouble covering a big, unplanned hit to their finances. In my view, most people who cannot afford to self-insure are buying phones that are too expensive. Some of today’s budget phones are great. Self-insuring is easier with a low-cost device.

Verizon To Offer Student Discounts

Starting July 2, Verizon will offer student discounts on its postpaid, unlimited plans. Students enrolled in programs of higher education (undergraduate, graduate, or vocational programs) can take advantage of $10 per month off of one line of service or $25 off of two lines of service. As far as I can tell, students on plans with three or more lines will not be eligible for any discount.

Verizon website screenshot

Verizon has a page on its website about the new discount. Here are further details on the offer’s terms, per Verizon:

For eligible students actively enrolled (including online enrollment) in a U.S. secondary educational institution of higher learning, including undergraduate, graduate, and/or vocational school or institution. Approved verification documents req’d. Offer good for a max of four (4) years as long as annual eligibility evaluations are met. Discount limited to max of 2 phone lines. Eligible students must be account owner or account manager; one offer per account. Cannot be combined with most offers.

Samsung Galaxy S20 5G UW’s Mislisted & Different Specs

Verizon just released the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G UW. While other carriers had already released versions of the S20 5G, Verizon’s UW (ultra-wide band) model of the phone is the first version compatible with Verizon’s millimeter wave 5G service.

I pre-ordered the phone. The device I received does not have the specs Samsung advertised. Here’s an archived Samsung web page with the specs as of June 2. Here’s the page as of today, June 9.

No SD Card Slot

Unlike other models of the S20, Verizon’s UW model doesn’t have an SD card slot. Those who pre-ordered the phone couldn’t have figured that out from the information on Samsung’s website.

The June 2 specs page shows an SD slot:

Mention of the SD slot is dropped in the newer, corrected version of the page:

The listing for the phone on Verizon’s website is getting a lot of one-star reviews from pre-order customers annoyed about the missing SD slot.

Missing network bands

I like it when phones have extensive cross-network compatibility. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Verizon’s S20 5G would be compatible with band 71 (a low-frequency band T-Mobile uses extensively). Here’s a screengrab from Samsung’s early specs page:

Originally listed bands for S20 5G UW

It turns out the phone doesn’t support band 71 (or bands 1, 29, and 30). Here’s the updated specs page:

Less RAM than other carriers’ models

Verizon’s version of the S20 5G comes with 8GB of RAM. Samsung listed this correctly on the early specs page. Other carriers’ versions of the S20 5G come with 12GB of RAM. For most users, I expect the reduced amount of RAM in Verizon’s model won’t cause performance issues.

Link Roundup – 6/2/2020

  • Glen Weyl argues that the FCC’s 2017 spectrum incentive auction may not have been the efficiency miracle economists treat it as. I’m not sure what to think.
  • A handful of Huawei employees were reportedly arrested in China for discussing Huawei’s business in Iran.
  • The FCC may have to turn over data logs with information about the source of fraudulent comments on net neutrality.
  • “At 22, he single-handedly put a stop to the worst cyberattack the world had ever seen. Then he was arrested by the FBI.” WIRED’s Andy Greenberg covers the story of Marcus Hutchins in a phenomenal, long-form piece.
  • AT&T subscribers won’t have to burn through data to stream HBO Max. AT&T’s Sponsored Data Program is developing thanks to the dropping of net neutrality.