Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

Summary: Unlimited smartphone data plans are going away, and for Verizon customers very soon. Folks are concerned about the change, but the fact is most won't notice anything different on the monthly bill.

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Smartphones have become a mainstream method for connecting to the web. We all use apps to access online content, get real-time messages from email and Facebook, and use the web browser quite a bit. We do these things without thought as they have become a part of everyday life. We have never worried about how much data we are consuming on our phones because it was all included in the buffet-style unlimited data plans. Those unlimited plans are going away, and for Verizon customers this week. Metered smartphone data plans are going to be the norm, but the fact is you probably won't notice anything different on your monthly bill.

We all love unlimited anything as opposed to tiered billing that charges us more for something the more we use. In the case of smartphone data plans we have grudgingly paid high monthly bills with the knowledge we at least had unlimited data at our disposal. The reaction to carriers ending unlimited data plans and switching to metered plans is overwhelmingly negative, and rightly so. When companies take away something we have gotten for "free" we don't take that lightly.

Since the news broke today that Verizon has confirmed the end of its unlimited smartphone data plans, I have been swamped with communications from friends and family about what that means for them. Everyone is paying a high monthly phone bill already, and fear is rampant that it is going to shoot up now that the unlimited free ride is over. The fact is, hardly anyone is going to see anything different on the bill as long as they have a data plan that is sufficient for them. That plan is probably smaller than many folks realize, based on my years of heavy smartphone data usage.

I have been using both smartphone data and aircard/hotspot data for years, and because it is important to my work I have always tracked usage very carefully each month. I have been paying so much for data plans that I had no desire to pay for more than I really needed, but I couldn't afford to pay for too little and have expensive overages kick in.

How much data does a heavy user go through each month? In my case less than 2GB per month; over years of data plans I have never exceeded that amount. That's why in the beginning of Aircard plans I quickly dropped from a 5GB monthly plan to a much cheaper 2GB plan. It is all I have ever needed, even when using my phone to tether to a laptop.

This is why I have been telling everyone contacting me in a panic today to calm down and don't worry. Unless you watch a lot of streaming video (movies, TV shows or other online video) odds are the move from unlimited data to a tiered system won't affect you. Video addicts better think things through though, or make sure they don't lose the unlimited data that carriers are grandfathering in. Other folks should be just fine with 2GB of data in the plan. Don't forget that tethering options cost an extra monthly fee, but in most cases augment the data allowed.

Image credit: Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Mobility, Verizon

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31 comments
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  • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

    You say you are a heavy user and use less than 2GB a month? I say you are wrong.

    I'm a moderate user, and I use between 1.5 and 3GB per month. Moderate. As in I don't do much tethering, and I don't do any streaming.
    Droid101
    • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

      @Droid101 It's all relative... Moderate to you is heavy to him maybe. <br><br>I think I'm a moderate user, and I use about 1GB/month. I watch a few videos on youtube, read the news, and upload photos to facebook, oh and play scrabble (the most important function on my phone) on my DroidX.
      snoop0x7b
    • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

      @Droid101 <br>Do people write these articles for free? Do they actually get paid for bloviating this drivel? I am a statistical sample of 1. So I could say, "I'm normal and I like red heads, therefore Blonds and Brunettes are not popular." How does he base this article on HIMSELF and think it means anything to anyone? Where are the other 10,000+ users whose data usage you examined to create a qualified sample to make any kind of reality based conclusion? It appears as if James Kendrick is LAZY or at the least narcissistic. Let's waste the time to look back at this article in a year and see if its relevant.
      When is the last time he went in to a cell phone store to have his old reliable phone repaired and was given the hard sell about upgrading to a new smart phone?..." Just look what this phone can do with 4G and more is coming!!! Its $15 more per month, but you get unlimited data.". Not any more...What he should be doing is using his unbridled insight to decry the death knell of the smart phone or, at the very least, a big black eye for it.
      Maybe he is not one of the 50 million people who stream or would like to stream video in the future. How we use these phones today may be irrelevant to how we use them in a year as new features and faster networks get rolled out. The carriers see this why don't we?
      BaconSmoothie4-2
  • You missed the point

    Of course most people won't notice ... today. That's exactly why they are doing it. Because 6 months from now customers certainly will notice and will have pay for multiple upgrades during a month. The cell phone companies will be rolling in dough as available apps consume more and more bandwidth and their tiers remain the same.
    wendellgee2
    • That's bait & switch for ya

      Typical. Nobody with a brain should be surprised.
      blind obedience
  • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

    For somebody who spends 8 hours a day 5 days a week maintaining a tech blog, daily facebook use, twitter and casual video streaming, even 12GB/ month is severely restrictive. Of course, you can differentiate between smartphone use only and laptop tethering, as the latter WILL eat through data like crazy and the carriers know this all too well.<br><br>Earlier this year I was looking to replace my home DSL connection with 4G service from ClearWire. The $45/month pricing for fast 4G with no data caps (true unlimited) was a great deal, except the hardware I received failed to work and coverage was spotty. Sadly, they are the only outfit offering such a package, which is unfortunate for me as my typical monthly usage, using a notebook/netbook/smartphone trio of hardware, easily trumps 25GB.<br><br>4G speed would be comparable to my current home DSL connection. Unlike James, I don't have a home office and am on the move a lot, so I need a mobile broadband solution suited to the full-time road warrior - this is a market that is being deliberately ignored today in the US.<br><br>When you think about it 25GB isn't all that much for a laptop and smartphone to consume over a month. If you don't believe me, just check the traffic meter on your home network - you would be surprised how much MORE some people will be gulping down over WiFi with just a notebook, slate and a smartphone.<br><br>That said, I don't consider myself a "heavy" user at all, because those 25GB is just what I use under normal activity. Yet if I look at Verizon's new pricing scheme, I would be getting ripped off $130+tax each month just in overage charges!<br><br>Did I mention that I do not use any VoIP, RDC or cloud services??? I don't even have a WHS box for media streaming or FTP. Ask any carrier what business solutions they have that satisfy a 25GB/month bandwidth requirement. You will be surprised by what they tell you!!!<br><br>Everybody I know uses Skype, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, email, IM etc... Every Windows device gets OS updates over the web. Every slate device requires an active data connection for normal use. And every kind of cloud service out there will require it's share of mobile bandwidth. Likewise, any remote desktop session will gobble up bandwidth too. Add it all up, and I wouldn't be surprised if the "real" heavy users are pushing close to 250GB/month in internet traffic.<br><br>Nobody can tell me that they use the web daily for 9-to-5 work and do it under 5GB/month - sorry James! The more web-connected gadgets and services we use, be it for work OR play, the more bandwidth carriers are going to have to provide. And not just per user, but per device! Yet quite the contrary, carriers are now doing the exact opposite, limiting our data usage and making us pay more for it.<br><br>People are sick of counting geebees - it's a crying shame that the FCC allows such monkey business from the carriers. Folks want to use their devices for what they were designed for. I don't see how carriers can continue adhering to this kind of business model, especially when the rules of supply and demand dictate that the market for fast, uncapped mobile broadband exists. It seems that, in the US at least, consumer needs and innovation have taken a back seat to corporate greed.
    lgpOnTheMove
    • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

      @lgpOnTheMove I didn't say I used the smartphone data plan all day every day. I use it when mobile, some days a lot and others just an hour here and there. That's the way most people use it, not to replace other connectivity options.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

        @JamesKendrick I guess you don't get out of the office much then. At least not as much as I do. ;-)

        4G has made wireless broadband compete with home services such as DSL, and not just in areas where land line service may not be available. In my particular case, 4G matched DSL on both speed and price, so making the switch would have given me an added benefit of being location-free - a boon to the road warrior.

        Your usage is still based on old 3G habits and being tied to a physical wire at home. 4G changes that mindset entirely. Carriers certainly won't openly advocate people replace their home connection with wireless broadband, yet the technology, market and devices to do it are all there, and is already happening in places outside the US.

        I'm sure Verizon wouldn't have created such a big stink if they would have matched Clearwire and Sprint with an unlimited 4G plan.
        lgpOnTheMove
      • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

        @JamesKendrick
        You need to do some actual research on what "most" people use instead of claiming assumptions as fact.
        erin13
    • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

      Do we really want the government telling companies what price to sell a service at? Really? As long as folks (and that includes you and me) are willing to pay higher prices for a service, the prices will rise. Once it reaches a price point that someone will not (or cannot) pay, then the prices will stop escalating or even fall. Blame your friends and associates for being so willing to pay these prices rather than the companies that sell them. I need bandwidth to run my company but when the price gets too high, I will stop paying or find less expensive alternatives or go out of business. When enough customers are lost this way, the service providers will have no choice but to reduce the price. Funny how the free markets work that way.
      don@...
      • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

        @don@...
        I agree, this is a clear case of "Vote with your wallet, not with your mouth". We only need get the politicians involved if that doesn't work.
        ZazieLavender
      • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

        @don@...

        Cellular service is NOT a free market. It has become a 21st century public utility, and it is a government granted oligopoly to lease a publicly owned right of way (the airwaves) to enable the best service.

        In this context, I think it is very reasonable the government mandate not specific pricing, but ensures a minimal level of competition, and requirements that enable pricing transparency and comparability for customers between carriers.

        "Once it reaches a price point that someone will not (or cannot) pay, then the prices will stop escalating or even fall."

        This isn't necessarily true, and gets back to the idea of why the government regulates certain markets. It is only true if the item has reached unitary price elasticity on its demand curve. Items that have limited substitutiblity, like gasoline, and public utilities, sold by industries with oligopolies frequently have very inelastic demand.

        This means many customers have eliminated or reduced their use of the item that would be beneficial to them, yet the revenue to the company continues to increase. The remaining customers absorb price increases because the item is important to their process or life and has few alternatives.
        colinnwn
      • ... the prices will stop escalating ... Au Contriare

        @don@... "Once it reaches a price point that someone will not (or cannot) pay, then the prices will stop escalating or even fall."

        So this assumes there is no cost to exit or enter the market on the part of the consumer. Given there are both exit and entry barriers, the price will be artificially high, which is what leads to the resentment that we all feel over this. It's a unilateral decision and we are all going to pay more for it.
        gallee
    • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

      @lgpOnTheMove The fact that you personally don't consider yourself a "heavy" user has little or no relationship to reality. Most alcoholics don't consider themselves to be "heavy" drinkers either. Even if it's your "normal" activity, 25gb/mo. over 3G is definitely in the heavy user category.
      plawler
      • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

        @plawler Please define reality then. I live/work on the road, as do many other people. I have a Netflix account, as do many other perfectly normal people. And I would like to use my notebook/netbook/smartphone the way it was designed to work, including tethering/hotspot.

        25GB only sounds like a lot because the disingenuous marketing engines of AT&T/Verizon have made you believe 5GB is "exceedingly abundant". So say the sheep! The truth is 5GB/month translates to a puny 20MB/hour when used throughout a regular day, and it doesn't take much effort to break past that.
        lgpOnTheMove
    • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

      @lgpOnTheMove
      Hey Igp, You know what you are talking about. Why is this guy writing the articles and not you?? Either he doesn't know jack, or he must be stuck writing the counter-point article to the one that really matters. Thank you for the reality check. I can't believe this article remains posted, its an embarrassment.
      BaconSmoothie4-2
    • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

      @lgpOnTheMove

      Good reply, I agree!
      erin13
  • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

    I think all the carriers should be held accountable for providing unlimited plans, then charging more and/or reducing plans just as the 4G phones roll out. All of them advertise phones being able to act as hotspots, but woe unto the used who does that with the "new" reduced data plans. BANG! A surcharge for using too much bandwidth. What a rip-off!
    Garreth49
  • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

    haha get real. with the add covered internet 2gb
    doesnt get you far, it's the same bs going on in residential
    service to squeeze the consumer for more money for less service. sale unlimited until people actualy start using it the up the charge lower the service
    rbuck9@...
  • RE: Verizon ends unlimited plans but you probably won't notice

    Ok then - put your money where your mouth (keyboard?) is. For each friend you assured, offer to pay any overage for the first 3 months after their plan is capped.

    Then they don't need to worry, right?
    rberman