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Last month, in a decision that’s proven unpopular with Verizon Wireless subscribers, the company officially announced that it will begin forcing users who currently have unlimited data plans (which typically cost around $30 a month) to choose data share plans when they move to the company's 4G network. CFO Fran Shammo said, "Everyone will be on data share.”
Verizon will be launching a new tiered data offering sometime this summer, according to Fierce Wireless, but no pricing details have been announced, which has left many faithful Verizon customers (including me!) wondering what the damage will be to their monthly bills. Verizon's shared data plans will allow Verizon customers to share data within family plans and over multiple devices, and Shammo said that he believes this new plan will make it easier for families and small businesses to connect multiple devices.
Verizon has been trying to distance itself from the unlimited data sales model for over a year. It stopped selling unlimited data plans to new users last summer after AT&T stopped selling its unlimited plan in 2010. Sprint is now the only company that still offers a true unlimited data plan.
Verizon customers immediately took to Twitter to voice their unhappiness with the decision. Multiple users tweeted that Verizon would be losing their business and another user said, "Soo Verizon is going to punish us long time customers for upgrading to a 4G LTE device by taking away our unlimited data plans? :("
In response to the Twitter hate and other backlash, Verizon tried to clarify what will happen to 3G/4G data plans. A statement issued by Verizon reads:
“- Customers will not be automatically moved to new shared data plans. If a 3G or 4G smartphone customer is on an unlimited plan now and they do not want to change their plan, they will not have to do so.
- When we introduce our new shared data plans, Unlimited Data will no longer be available to customers when purchasing handsets at discounted pricing.
- Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan will be able to keep that plan.
- The same pricing and policies will be applied to all 3G and 4GLTE smartphones.”
Translation? This means anyone purchasing a smartphone from this summer forward on subsidy pricing will be forced into tiered/shared data. If you choose not to buy a smartphone on subsidy, you can keep your unlimited plan if you want to. But after this summer, if you renew your 2-year agreement on any line by buying a "discounted" phone you will also lose unlimited.
Some third-party retailers and Verizon customer retention agents may be willing to offer you a "special deal" if you complain enough, but for most of us this does mean the end of unlimited, unfortunately.
Verizon doesn’t seem too concerned that it will lose significant business.
"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," Shammo said. "And that is beneficial for us for many reasons, obviously."
Will this make you think twice about sticking with Verizon?