Verizon Wireless has made no secret that it’s going to be switching to a new pricing system under which customers pay more when they use more data. The details of this new system, which will go into place soon, have leaked out.
The carrier will supposedly stop offering new customers the option of getting an unlimited data plan on July 7. After that date, they will have three options: 2GB a month of data transfer for $30, 5GB of transfers for $50, or 10GB for $80. Going over the allowance will result in a fee of $10 per gigabyte.
The prices are the same no matter what type of connection the user is making, whether it’s a 3G EV-DO or 4G LTE, it makes no difference. Charging extra for a 4G connection would have likely lowered demand for Verizon’s 4G smartphones, like the HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Droid Charge.
Those who wish to tether other computers to their smartphone — sharing one wireless Internet connection among multiple devices — will reportedly have to pay an additional $20 per month, but they will also get 2GB more of data. So the plans will be 4GB for $50, 7GB for $70, or 12GB for $100.
Tiered data plans like this benefit subscribers who don’t use much data, as they can save money by getting the least expensive plan. However, they penalize heavy data users.
Verizon executives began saying early this year that the clock is winding down on their company’s unlimited data plan. Whether the change actually happens on July 7 or not, it’s definitely on the docket for sometime in mid summer.
Wither Unlimited Data?
According to the source of the pricing information, an unconfirmed report in Droid Life, there’s good news for current subscribers: Verizon will “grandfather” them in, so that they can keep their unlimited accounts if they already have one.
But this group should keep in mind that their “unlimited” plan isn’t actually unlimited. Early this year, the carrier instituted a soft cap on how much data its subscribers can transfer each month. The top 5% of data users on the network can have their bandwidth slowed down for not only the remainder of the current billing cycle, but also the following one.
Up Against the Competition
AT&T was the first carrier in the U.S. to scrap its unlimited data plan. It offers a choice of two plans: one costs $25 a month and provides 2GB of data. The second gets the user 200MB of data transfers in a month for $15.
Sprint, on the other hand, is the sole remaining U.S. carrier to offer a truly unlimited Wireless Data plan. Subscribers are free to exchange as much data as they wish over Sprint’s 3G or 4G networks.
T-Mobile falls somewhere between these two — it still has an unlimited data plan, but those who transfer over 5GB of data in a single month have their service slowed down for the remainder of their current billing cycle.