Unlimited Data Makes a Welcome Comeback at Verizon

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud with 18 Comments

Unlimited Data Makes a Welcome Comeback at Verizon

Verizon Wireless announced this week that it will once again offer an unlimited data plan for individuals. It comes with a caveat, of course. But this is still a welcome change.

“We’ve built our network so we can manage all the activity customers undertake,” Verizon Wireless president Ronan Dunne said in a prepared statement. “Everything we’ve done is to provide the best experience on the best network – and we’ve built it for the future, not just for today. We also fundamentally want you to have more choice. We’re not limiting you to a single plan. If you don’t need unlimited data, we still have 5 GB, S, M, and L Verizon plans that are perfect for you.”

As with most changes at the big wireless carriers, this week’s return of unlimited data was driven by Verizon’s smaller competitors, like T-Mobile and Sprint, which innovate much more quickly and generally offer better deals and services. And as I’m sure readers know, I’ve been using Google’s amazing Project Fi for the past 15 months or so and would have switched to this network carrier offering if it weren’t limited to such a small range of Android devices.

Verizon’s new unlimited data offering is of course limited, just as are similar plans from T-Mobile, Sprint, and others. In this case, it means that Verizon will throttle data for the heaviest users of the service, or after 22 GB of usage in a given billing period. And as much as I hate to be complementary to Verizon, which is a terrible, terrible company, that is actually a reasonable limit. Yes, even for something marketed as unlimited.

I switched from Verizon to the equally awful AT&T Wireless in mid-2007 when the first iPhone shipped. At that time, AT&T, like other carriers here in the US, was offering unlimited data, and that’s what I had. I recall having to switch off that plan a few years ago because of some phone upgrade, and the store employee hesitating to do so, noting that she felt like she was “killing a unicorn.”

In any event, I don’t actually need unlimited data, and I rarely come anywhere close to the limit—6 GB per month, because of some doubling formula I won’t event try to describe or understand—on my one remaining AT&T line. But this kind of thing is still attractive because, in tandem with this change, AT&T and Verizon are both now offering similar “Day Pass” international plans too. And that means that switching—for me at least—is now easier than ever.

That said, switching is still a pain, so I’m not sure yet what I will do here, if anything.

Looking at the new Verizon unlimited plan, here’s what I see: For an individual, the price is actually $80 per month plus fees and taxes, and that’s actually more (or about the same) what I’m paying AT&T right now for a single line. (Verizon is advertising a price of $45 very obviously on its website, but that price is per line for families with 4 lines, so it’s quite an exaggeration. Typical.)

For that $80, I could get unlimited data (with that 22 GB asterisk), unlimited talk, unlimited text, HD video streaming (duh?), mobile hotspot capabilities (necessary), and “calling and texting to/from Mexico and Canada,” which I assume, probably incorrectly, is at no additional fee.

As a potential lure, Verizon appears to be offering a 32 GB iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus for free if I move from AT&T and trade-in my current phone. I don’t actually need/want this deal, but that would smooth the process. There are similar deals on Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Google Pixel, Moto Z Force Droid, and some other phones, and other deals too.

Interesting. And worth investigating.

 

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Unlimited Data Makes a Welcome Comeback at Verizon”

  1. Avatar

    5714

    You should not be able to call something Unlimited and then apply limitations to it.  This is obvious False Advertising... Bait-n-Switch rules should apply here.

    • Avatar

      5539

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER: This has been the norm for everyone for some time. As many have pointed out, your data is unlimited, just not all at full speed. It's like all you can eat wings, but after a dozen they bring them one at a time.
      Sprint - Customers who use more than 23GB of data during a billing cycle will be de-prioritized during times and places where the Sprint network is constrained.
      T-Mobile - if congested, top 3% of data users (>28GB/mo.) may notice reduced speeds due to prioritization. 
      AT&T - they don't list an unlimited plan, but -   No charge for overage. After all your high-speed data allotments are used, all data usage is slowed to a max of 128Kbps (2G speed) for the rest of the bill cycle.
      So maybe AT&T is the most honest here, but I figure others will dredge up the AT&T effort to shed all their grandfathered 'unlimited' plans by throttling those users earlier than they would have been throttled at the same price a few years back.

       

    • Avatar

      2059

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER:

      It's not false advertising in the slightest. Unlimited data is not the same thing as unlimited speed. You are still getting the data, but it is coming in at a slower rate. Hopefully they don't drop it down to 2g speeds, which makes the data pretty much unusable. They are upfront about the throttling. So, the consumer is completely informed about what they are buying. So, it is neither false advertising nor is it an example of bait and switch. If the throttling is only during peak times, I think the policy is fair. The heavy user has used more than his share of the available spectrum for the month. Give preference to people who pay the same price but haven't used nearly as much. 

    • Avatar

      5534

      In reply to TEAMSWITCHER: The download speed is throttled if you exceed 22 GB of data, and according to Verizon, that's only during times of heavy network congestion. Or in other words, during peak times. It's a way of evening out the network load by getting people to use the service during non-peak times. (Just like the phone companies used to charge more to make a long distance call during peak times.) You won't be cut off, and there's no additional charge, if you exceed that 22 GB of data. So yea, it is unlimited data.

       

  2. Avatar

    4776

    The various US deals are very interesting. In the UK I am on the "Three" network which for my SIM-free plan is £30 (these days about $35) per month for unlimited data, text and voice. I can also use it (with no additional cost) in some 42 countries abroad (admittedly some aren't really countries) and includes most of Western Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand (but no Canada (!) nor Mexico and South America). It does seem to compare favourably with Verizon & AT&T!

  3. Avatar

    5394

    For just $10 more, you move from 8 GB + 2 GB free = Total 10 GB at $70, to $80 for unlimited service. It seems like a no-brainer, but it's still $10 more.  I currently pay for a $60 service for 6 GB, which I already reached the limit on some months. I will likely upgrade my service when the new iPhone 8 comes out, but should I pay $10 more or pay $20 more for unlimited? It's still $20 more per month. The Unlimited service means I don't need to get the rollover minute plan that was previously offered. I haven't heard anything about the rollover plan lately and it adds another $5 to the plan. The choices are getting more difficult to decide. It might just seem much easier to get Unlimited to reduce complexity.

  4. Avatar

    9949

    I had to get rid of my ATT Unlimited when I wanted to enable the hot spot function on my phone.  I do have five users on ATT that have Unlimited International data for $65 that has not changed in price in the 8 years they have had it.

  5. Avatar

    5534

    Something completely off topic, but has anyone noticed a severe degradation of signal strength from AT&T Wireless for the past few months? We have four phones in our household, three Android and one Windows 10. All four phones used to always get five bars signal strength, but lately they're all only getting one or two, sometimes maybe three. And location doesn't seem to affect it. Is this just us, or is it happening elsewhere? Thanks.

  6. Avatar

    5285

    I know Verizon just announced the unlimited data on their press release page on 2/12, but I have been on unlimited date that throttles after 24gb (not 22gb as mentioned in the press release) since my October 2016 bill which covered 9/16/16-10/15/16. I think the Press Release is more of a Retread/restructure than actual new news.

  7. Avatar

    1777

    Aside from the fact that all mobile carriers charge way too much, I don't have any problems with Verizon. Service is extremely reliable for me and their billing is relatively straightforward.

  8. Avatar

    790

    What about T-Mobile?  I switched over a year ago when the 950 XL came out and have been happy with it.  And their CEO is entertaining to watch on "the Twitter".

  9. Avatar

    289

    Anyone recall what they were paying AT&T or Verizon for unlimited data back in 2010, before they started pushing everyone away from those plans? 

  10. Avatar

    6014

    Gotta love a world where 22GB = Infinity, and it's acceptable to advertise it as such.  $80/month?  For one line?  That's $3.64/GB.  WTF, people?  It would cost me as much as a cheap movie ticket to stream a 2GB movie file from my own OneDrive.  That's insane.

    If there is a hell, I firmly believe that the policymakers at Verizon and the other telecomms are going to burn there for eternity.

    • Avatar

      YouWereWarned

      In reply to Daekar:

      In Hell, former telecom execs (and select politicians) get to watch the communal TV in 5-second increments, and the thing only accepts quarters. Oh yeah, only QVC and the Upgrade Channel in that package.

    • Avatar

      2059

      In reply to Daekar:

      There are no overage charges. Therefore the data is unlimited. So, the advertising is accurate. The only way that a false advertising claim might work is by arguing that they advertise the unlimited data and usually tout that they have the fastest network. You could argue that an average consumer might assume that the unlimited data is always working at the fastest speed. It doesn't help that they show the throttling in the fine print in the commercials. 

    • Avatar

      1143

      In reply to Daekar:

      You are guaranteed unlimited data.  You are not guaranteed the speed of that data on congested towers when you are over 22gb of data on a line. Also, once the congestion is cleared up or you move to a different tower, your speed goes back up.

  11. Avatar

    5539

    So, for Paul, here is how the AT&T rollover works. You have a 6G/mo plan. This month you use 2.5G, that leaves 3.5G left over. That tacks on to next month and you have 9.5G to burn through. Say you use 3.5G. They take that out of your 6G, leaving 2.5G of the basic bucket. The extra 3.5G from this month goes away and the 2.5G left over next month adds to the following month for an 8.5G bucket that month. What could be simpler than that :) If you never use any, you will always have twice as much as you are paying for. What a deal!

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