Yesterday, I spent my morning stuck in a Verizon store — not trying to order the new iPhone 5 — but rather trying to achieve one simple task: Swapping out the old SIM cards on my two iPad 2(s) and not getting very far, even though I had already done my web research and wasted an hour on the phone with Verizon customer support telling me the only way to add the iPads to my new “Share Everything Plan” was to replace the SIM cards because a “pre-pay” SIM card is hardcoded in the Verizon system as a standalone device and the only way to add an iPad to a shared data plan is to replace the pre-pay SIM card with a “post-pay” SIM card.

Easy, right?

Not so fast!

I spent 30 minutes trying to convince the customer service agent in my local Verizon store that all I needed was a new SIM card for both iPads and I’d be on my way.  She refused to believe she couldn’t force the system to use the existing SIM cards.  Long story short:  I was right, she was wrong, and I wasted my morning standing there watching a frustrated woman lose the day for me.

I love Verizon compared to AT&T, but one thing I will say in favor of AT&T:  They will swap out a SIM card for you on a whim and a giggle as the first line of troubleshooting without hassling you.  They’ll try to charge you $5.00USD for a new SIM card, but point out to them that the only way to get your device on their network working was to swap out the SIM, and they’ll credit your account for the $5.00USD charge. Verizon, for some reason, believes their SIM cards are too precious to swap, and they will spend a dying day trying to force a pre-paid SIM card into a unreceptive post-paid hole. (That’s what she said!)

The woman finally gave in and decided she had to swap in new SIM cards and, as I knew, new SIM cards in both iPads had each of them up and running on the Verizon LTE system in less than five minutes. Believe this: A New SIM Card Heals All Ills. Use it as your first line of troubleshooting defense.

Here’s a useful technical note: The ICCID found in SETTINGS | GENERAL | ABOUT on your iOS device is the number of your SIM card. If you need that SIM card ID, look there — don’t pop out your physical SIM card just to try to read a tiny grey number printed on a white SIM card background.

I needed to swap the SIM cards in my iPads because I wanted to add those two devices to my new “Share Everything” plan on Verizon.  I made the Share Everything switch early in anticipation of getting two iPhone 5(s) when the budget allows.

I like the online Verizon Wireless account interface.  You have a lot of control over your service. You can switch plans and even seamlessly change your phone number for free to any area code they have in stock. I decided to switch to the Share Everything plan because we were getting killed every month having two iPhone 4S(s) and two LTE iPads with Verizon.

Our iPhones were tricked out with unlimited text and hotspot on each phone — a $50.00USD features fee for both phones, plus we were playing $30.00USD a month for 2 gigs of LTE service for each iPad.  We were on the cheapest family plan for voice for the iPhones.  All tolled, our skin was in for $300.00USD per month in voice, data, hotspot, text and service fees to Verizon for all four Apple iDevices.  Umm? Ouch!

The Share Everything plan, while not for everyone, is actually perfection for us.  We don’t use tons of voice minutes, but we do text a lot.  Share Everything gives us unlimited text and voice, and now I can finally start using my iPhone as a real phone and as a first world problem replacement for my landlubber Comcast landline.

On the Share Everything plan, we had to purchase a pool of shared data between our devices — up to 10 devices — and while Verizon recommends 2 gigs per device, our data patterns are actually quite small because we don’t really do much data except for web surfing and email, so we’re currently sharing a 4 gig pool of data.  We try to offload our iPads and iPhones on WiFi at home and out in the wilds as often as possible.

Smartphones, like the iPhone, cost us $40.00USD per device on the Share Everything plan and tablets are only $10.00USD per month — plus a $35.00USD “activation fee” for each tablet you add to the plan, but we were able to get that ridiculous fee waived.  A 4 gig shared data pool between all four devices is $70.00 per month so our total monthly nut to Verizon falls from $300.00USD to a measly $170.00USD per month for the same devices, and unlimited voice and text and the cool “Hotspot” feature.  Beauty, eh?

I realize the new Share Everything plan may not work for you as a current Verizon customer — but if you become a new Verizon smartphone customer, you will have to be on that plan — for existing customers, you may use the Share Everything Calculator to give you a better notion if you’d benefit switching to that plan from the one you’re using. For us, the move up to Verizon Share Everything was quite mindful and never mindless and we are grateful for the chance to change to a better plan.

17 Comments

      1. One phone. I haven’t yet tried using it as a hotspot. It looks like AT&T will charge $20 a month for the ‘privilege’ of being able to do this and totally not worth it! 🙂

        On my most recent bill it says : “1005969 KB used”

        1. Hmm… so it seems like you’re paying the same price for services that we are — except we get free hotspots on our iPhones and our iPads are included in the plan. The only place you beat us is the unlimited data — but you’re only using a gig a month, though, so that’s not a problem yet — but they’ll start throttling you when you get near 2 gigs. We can also do FaceTime over cellular when iOS 6 is released without having to pay extra. SMILE!

          The hotspots are great for two things: Giving you an LTE WiFi internet connection when your hardwire internet is down and when you want to give your non-Cellular iPad WiFi internet access away from home and when you’re not near a hotspot.

  1. I’m commenting before I read, just because I should have KNOWN you’d have a phone service review/preview. I JUST changed to Virgin Mobile/Sprint network for money reasons.
    ****Ok, now I get to see if I need to cry or rejoice. ****
    (Verizon was one I looked at closely)

    1. Hi Lillian!

      I used to be on Sprint 12 years ago. They were a good network and their customer service was always friendly. They work well with Google Voice integration better than any other carrier.

      Sprint can be a good value for the money — but if you want top 4G data speeds — Verizon is the company you want to master you forward. SMILE!

      1. I just need my phone to RING 🙂
        and text and maybe FaceBook **some**
        You have encouraged my choice. Thank you.
        All the technical terms you two are speaking sounds like Greek to me.
        I wouldn’t know how to even ask for all that stuff, much less use it. 🙂

  2. I can’t live without my 4G LTE Verizon iPad while I’m not at home. Wifi comes and goes, my LTE connection in NYC is pretty good. I was tempted to just make my LTE iPad a “WiFi only” device and not add it to our plan and if I needed internet on my iPad, I’d just set up a hotspot on my iPhone and use that. It was just too complex for me to handle coming and going different places during the day. For me, it’s worth the $10 fee to just add the iPad to our data pool and let it be like that. I will purchase future iPads with LTE for sure. It’s just super handy to have.

    1. Right. It was important for your to have 4G on your iPad while you’re out in the field. The harder decision was if I should add my iPad 2 to our plan because I mainly use my iPad at home on our fast WiFi system. The thing that decided it for me was that if anything went wrong with our internet, I could get a 4G connection for my computer via my iPad’s WiFi hotspot. That’s worth $10 a month to me as an emergency backup and the iPads make much faster hotspots than the iPhone 4S just because the phones on on the slower 3G network. The fact that my iPad is rarely on 4G is perfect for the Share Everything Plan because that device will almost never need to dip into the shared data pool.

      If Verizon hadn’t sweetened the deal by waiving our activation fees for both iPads — because of technical setup trouble on their end — I’m not sure if it would have been such a great deal. Spending $35 dollars per iPad to add them to our account seemed ridiculous since we’d been using them pre-paid on the network for almost a year. That was a $70 hit I’m glad we were able to avoid.

  3. I was paying $89/month for ONE non-smart phone line and to upgrade requires a 2yr contract with US Cellular. I don’t like contracts for phone. With my new plan I’ll pay $55/month, no contract, and a smart phone for rookies (according to PC mag). I’m happy.

  4. So it is possible to have different area codes on a single Share Everything Plan? I want to have a local area code for where I am and let my family in a different town use their local area code there. Right now, everyone has an area code for a city that no one lives in (where I went to school) on a family plan with another carrier.

    1. You can have any area code phone number on any Verizon phone you have right now no matter what plan you’re on — just login to the Verizon website and pick the area code you want for which phone and you’re done! It literally takes less than a minute to update and go live.

      Finally, area codes based on region don’t matter to phone companies anymore and we are now free to choose the area code we want no matter where we live or work or travel — “one number, forever,” is the new mantra and that’s a good thing. We no longer have to give up our “local” phone number when we move across country if we don’t want to…

      Just beware you can choose your area code and prefix, but the last four numbers are no exposed to you — so in some ways you are going on faith that you’ll get four numbers you like. I suppose you can always go back and change your number again and again until you get one you like overall. I lucked out and got an excellent 917 number with perfect last four digits. Pure kismet! My wife got an 917 number, too, and her last four digits were sort of ugly — but she didn’t care — so we left it.

      Make sure you also add the new “Share ID” to your account. It’s free. It lets you set the name you want to use when you call from your VZW phone and have appear in Caller ID on the other end. The default is “Wireless Customer” — so changing it to your name, or something else, is good.

      The good thing about Share Everything, though, is that you get unlimited text and voice — so if you are used to being billed regionally or by area code or by circles or by “long distance” — all of that is over now. Big money now for the carriers is in data delivery. Voice and text are cheap enough they can go truly unlimited now.

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