There are work families and friend families. Now, as Wall Street Journal reports, many people also have cellphone-plan families.
Due to greatly reduced costs, family cellphone plans have become increasingly popular among nonfamily groups—networks of friends, roommates, neighbors and even colleagues are connected by these arrangements. In fact, approximately 70% of American postpaid cellphone plan customers are on family plans.
These arrangements remain popular in part because they make the most financial sense for the majority of Americans, says Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research, a telecommunications research group.
People using family plans for groups outside of their nuclear family is “definitely a phenomenon,” Moore says.
The savings are obvious; with the nation’s major carriers, including Verizon Communications Inc., Sprint Corp. , AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc., the cost for a one-line plan with unlimited talk, text and smartphone data can range from around $60 to $95, not including taxes and fees. By comparison, family plans are cheaper by around $10 a person for two people and as much as $35 cheaper per person for a family plan with four lines. The maximum number of lines varies from carrier to carrier, with T-Mobile capping it at 12 and Verizon at 10.
The Rev. Sam Sawyer first met his cellphone plan “family” in 2006, after he completed the first stage of Jesuit training. In 2007, he and a group of other Jesuits enrolled in a family cellphone plan, and Sawyer has run the group ever since, eventually combining plans with another group of Jesuits in 2015.
The logistics of cost sharing is the trickiest part of being on a family plan with nonfamily members. Sawyer monitors costs for his group of Jesuits on his “family” cellphone plan on a shared Google spreadsheet.