Verizon yesterday got kicked around the Internet for allegedly planning to charge business users of Motorola's Droid smartphone extra to access Exchange email behind the corporate firewall.
The only problem with that meme is that it's not true.
Among those doing the kicking were Wired's Priya Ganapat, who wrote "Droid users will have to pay at least an additional $15 a month on top of their data plan for Exchange access. That means $45 a month including Exchange support instead of $30 a month for a data only plan."
Infoworld's Galen Gruman wrote that "users who buy the device and expect to use its built-in Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support to get corporate e-mail from Exchange servers will have to pay an additional $15 per month for the privilege, Verizon confirms."
But that seems to be based on a misinterpretation of what Verizon was actually confirming or in this case trying to confirm.
Verizon's point is that there is on special data plan for the Droid: the new phone has exactly the same data plan options that Verizon's other Windows Mobile phones have. And it doesn't matter what you do with the phone: you can access Exchange or Gmail or anything else with whatever plan you opt for.
PC Mag's Gearlog blogger Sascha Segan had the most straightforward explanation, I think: Verizon offers a personal (or family) data plan for $30 a month, and a business plan for $45. On either, you can access Exchange, Gmail or whatever email system you're using.
"If you have a personal account or family plan, your data will cost $30/month. It doesn't matter if you're using Microsoft Exchange, Facebook, Gmail, or whatever - it's $30. This is the same for all Verizon Windows Mobile and Android phones.
"Data on business accounts - "corporate liable," multiple lines, purchased through business sales, usually mediated by an IT department - costs $45/month. Once again, this is the same for every Windows Mobile and Android phone."
As one poster, Steve, responded: "The sad/funny thing is that I know a lot of people that said they aren't going to get the Droid because they thought Verizon was going to charge them $15/month extra to hit their personal exchange account due to the misleading articles that have been posted."
This is the same approach used by other carriers, Segan notes, such as AT&T: offering both personal and business data accounts, with a higher monthly charge for the business plan, with whatever email backends that your device, such as the iPhone, supports.
For business users, the IT department still has to set up authorization, security, and access by the Droid to the corporate Exchange server. The Droid, like the iPhone and many others, runs the licensed Microsoft ActiveSync client to support Exchange interaction, though each manufacturer can choose what Exchange features and options to support.
As Segan notes, Verizon doesn't care if you're a personal data plan user "doing business" with your Droid. But a business, as a customer, will have a business data plan for its mobile users. And they can all access Exchange.