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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