My primary wireless carrier is T-Mobile due to the excellent coverage and speeds I experience where I live and work. I have five phones on an old family plan with unlimited data on 2 lines (throttles after 5GB, but I never use that much). I also signed up for a Verizon LTE unlimited plan with the HTC ThunderBolt and now use that line with my iPhone 4S. Fierce Wireless reports that Verizon is killing my grandfathered unlimited plan sometime this year when they launch their shared data plans. We don't have all the details on whether or not this applies to those who signed up with a 4G plan and don't renew a contract, which would apply to me.
In the statement made by Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo (copied below), he mentions this is a move to get people from unlimited 3G plans to 4G. However, I signed up for this plan with a subsidized 4G LTE HTC ThunderBolt device so it was always supposed to be a 4G plan offering, and it may turn out that it stays this way until I sign a new contract. I prefer to pay extra for unsubsidized devices so I am not locked in, unless I am just joining a carrier since some require a contract just to join.
So as you come through an upgrade cycle and you upgrade in the future, you will have to go onto the data share plan. And moving away from, if you will, the unlimited world and moving everybody into a tiered structure data share-type plan. So when you think about our 3G base, a lot of our 3G base is unlimited. As they start to migrate into 4G, they will have to come off of unlimited and go into the data share plan. And that is beneficial for us for many reasons, obviously. So as you pick what tier you want to be and we think that there will be some price up in those tiers.
As I mentioned late last night I pre-ordered a Sprint HTC EVO 4G LTE and given that they are the last major carrier with unlimited data it looks like I may be moving from Verizon to Sprint. Who am I kidding, I will just add Sprint to my collection of wireless carrier contracts :) While I am disappointed that Verizon may be forcing people to a shared plan (no pricing or availability yet) that will obviously have data limits, it makes my carrier decision easier and helps me reduce monthly costs if they do kill the grandfathered plan. I pay $83/month (with taxes) for Verizon and use about 25 calling minutes and unlimited data (generally between 2GB to 4GB/month). I get FANTASTIC coverage with Verizon so I would prefer to stick with them and their unlimited data plan. I also paid full price for an Apple iPhone 4S to keep my unlimited data plan intact so this news doesn't make me very pleased with Verizon either.
I tried the Nokia Lumia 900 on AT&T for a couple of weeks and was trending to exceed my 3GB monthly data allotment. Thus, as a person who uses quite a bit of data on multiple carriers I really don't want to have to pay strict attention to data limits all the time and am looking to stick with unlimited data options.
I understand that carriers are concerned about people overloading their networks and abusing unlimited data plans that they offered and we accepted, but I doubt there are that many customers even exceeding more than 3GB a month (may heavy usage max in most cases) so killing this offering may do more harm than good. I think it is great to see shared data plans for families, but those consumers who have just one or two phones on a carrier may not benefit from such plan changes. If they kill my data plan before my contract expires I wonder if I can get out of paying an ETF since they are changing the service plan I agreed to with my contract.