Friday, June 24, 2011
Verizon leaving the "all you can eat" data buffet
Verizon announced a couple days ago that starting July 7th, it will no longer offer unlimited data plans for new customers or customers upgrading to a smartphone from a less advanced "dumb-phone". Rumors have it that prices will start at $30 for 2GB ($30 currently gets you unlimited data) which is actually $5 a month more than rival AT&T's 2GB offering. Those customers that already have unlimited data (like me) will be grandfathered in and allowed to keep their current plan. Rumors also say that you will still be able to keep that unlimited plan even when upgrading to a newer phone at the end of your contract. However I seriously doubt that can be true because AT&T irritated a lot of people upgrading from an iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 by getting rid of their unlimited data.
According to various statistics I've seen online, the average user uses less than 1GB a month, so for most people this change won't affect them. "Power users" such as myself use much more than that. I average about 5GB a month and back in December I used nearly 9GB of data! (all thanks to youtube videos keeping me occupied during the boring days spent with extended famliy around Christmas and the two days I was stuck in various airports around the country for hours on end thanks to snow storms). While tiered data is excellent for the phone company, it's not so great for the average consumer whose data use is only going to increase in the coming years.
With apps such as youtube, netflix, and upcoming hulu apps, that 2GB limit suddenly doesn't seem that high. 4G speeds make the problem even worse. Assuming an 8 megabit connection (which is actually rather conservative) from Verizon's new 4G LTE network, that 2GB of data will be exhausted in less than 5 hours. Personally, I don't support caps at all on 4G PHONES (data cards however, should be capped) but I believe caps could successfully be used on 3G networks because they're getting to the point where they can't handle today's usage. Sprint's data cards have a 3G limit but not a 4G limit (phones still have unlimited data). I believe Verizon should do the same thing with phones, but makes tiers fall in line with what the vast majority of people use (to help keep those who abuse the system by constantly tethering at bay), say something like 3 or 4GB a month.
But for the time being, I'm quite happy with my Droid 2 Global and my unlimited data plan that certainly isn't going away anytime soon.