“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn The above definition of happiness couldn’t be truer than for Internet data usage quota enjoyed by individuals. Presently, operators have designed separate monetary and quota limits for multiple users in a group like family or corporate settings based on individual device plans which can’t really make them very happy, can it? The only futuristic strategy is to allow users go over the limit as per their needs now and then, that too without hurting the pocket. It can be done through shared quota plans. Basically, all the money spent in a house/corporate group is through a common pool of expenses. It makes logical sense to have a shared wallet where a single bill is generated for the family head/IT admin for all data consumed within the house/corporate group. Operators like AT&T and Verizon have already realized the smart business opportunity in shared wallet plans. As the head of my own family, I went through some of these family plan policies which does make me smile a bit. /*A disclaimer may be added here: these costs are assumed based on my personal needs and may not be applicable for all users.*/ For instance, going through Verizon’s “Share Everything” plan for 1 smartphone and 1 tablet along with 6 GB data, all that adds up to around $135 per month which is pretty cool compared to 2 separate devices especially when I’m getting additional perks like quota sharing, unlimited calls, SMS, free access to Wi-Fi hotspots. When I went through AT&T “Mobile Share” plan, it really outdid my financial expectations when you calculate its worth with respect to their individual plans. The individual plan would cost $39.99 (assuming lowest voice plan) + $30/month for 3GB data usage across 1 smartphone device X 2 = 139.98 per month You also need at least a 5 GB plan to enable mobile tethering which is not very convenient. In contrast, the AT&T family plan for 1 smartphone and 1 tablet for 6 GB combined usage adds to $90 for data, $35 for smartphone and $10 for tablet = $135. Clearly, a much superior plan since it comes with quota sharing, unlimited calls, unlimited SMS and mobile tethering. When you calculate the value addition up to 10 devices, it’s indeed extraordinary savings. Again, on the surface, all this looks brilliant but there are some gaps that need to be addressed. For example, if one user in the family (my video junkie son) downloads excess movies or makes video calls, my plan will max out in the blink of an eye. What I really need is more control over how, where and on what device the data is being consumed. This is where a Policy Manager with Integrated Charging like NetVertex comes into picture. As parent/Admin, all I have to do is visit the “My Account” section and define data usage caps for all device users in my plan including my video junkie son. What it does is enable real time usage metering while offering various services like upgrading of monetary Quota, bandwidth-on-demand and balance management among the member’s individual as well as group accounts. Further, the demand for additional quota requests, monitoring individual as well as group usage in real time, transfer of monetary as well as non monetary balance within the family members or any other modifications in the plan can be easily made by Parent/admin by logging in to the NetVertex Service selection portal. For instance, at the end of the month, I may decide to transfer my unspent quota to my son so he can watch the latest Batman movie, provided he has been a good boy doing his homework on time! Intelligent policy and charging capabilities also enable using shared wallet plans for enhancing dynamic potential of Parental control and Enterprise Plans. Watch out for our next blog entry on Parental Controls.