The wireless wars are heating up once again with Verizon Wireless making an unexpected return to unlimited data plans. In a surprise weekend statement, the nation’s largest wireless provider announced that they would launch Verizon Unlimited, which now offers plans beginning at $80/month for a single line. The 4G LTE plan includes unlimited talk, data, and texting and includes a family tier of $45 per additional line.
In the official press release announcing the new plan, the President of Verizon’s wireless division Ronan Dunne noted that the company could handle the increase in consumer data.
“We’ve built our network so we can manage all the activity customers undertake. 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.”
Dunne also reiterated that this return to unlimited data did not mean that the company was abandoning their S, M, and L data plan tiers.
The new unlimited plan is geared primarily towards customers who consistently use over 8GB a month in data. If a user also has multiple devices, the unlimited option is optimized to save money over existing data-restricted services. However, the service from Verizon Wireless comes with a pricing caveat which requires paper-free billing and AutoPay.
As with similar plans from competitors Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T, Verizon Unlimited will have a throttling cap (22 GB) that will slow user’s streaming experiences if they go over the set amount. Further, mobile hotspot/tethering is reduced to the 3G network after 10 GB of usage.
Both T-Mobile and Sprint’s unlimited plans are priced lower than Verizon’s at $70 and $50 respectively. Also, T-Mobile announced that they would add HD video streaming to its unlimited plan to compete with Verizon.
For international travelers, the new unlimited plan includes calling and texting to and from Mexico and Canada. The plan also imposes restrictions on Mexico/Canada data, talk and texting, limiting it to under 50% in a 60-day period. For other international data needs, Verizon will offer a TravelPass which includes 500MB/day for at a daily rate of $10. However, the company will impose 2G speed limits after surpassing a limit of 500mb/day.
As noted by Washington Post, Verizon Wireless’s Unlimited plan is a reverse course from a statement made by their former chief financial officer Fran Shammo in September that “people don’t need unlimited plans.” The statement by Shammo was contradicted by repeated outcry on social media for Verizon to reintroduce an unlimited plan option.
If Verizon doesn't offer unlimited data in 2017 someone is going to have a law suit on their hands
— KEVIN HERNANDEZ (@Mclovin_1234) December 31, 2016
— M.I. (@ibarraOFC) February 4, 2017
You get unlimited data at Sprint for $50 a month and only 5G at Verizon for $55 pic.twitter.com/adZF2iVQf1
— Kayla (@KAYbeginskiss) February 3, 2017
The move by Verizon comes after years of efforts to shift long-time customers away from grandfathered unlimited plans with pricing increases and new phone deals that required data-restricted plans.
Verizon Unlimited comes on the heels of increased competition from other carriers who have in recent months ran successful promotions built on unlimited offerings. T-Mobile recently aired a risqué Super Bowl advertisement lampooning what had been Verizon’s strict data overage policies. The commercial led to a Twitter spat between the two companies which led to the Verizon proclaiming that they were into BDSM.
Yes @Tmobile, we're into BDSM. Bigger coverage map, Devastating Speed, and Massive capacity.
— Verizon (@verizon) February 6, 2017
Sprint also launched in recent months a targeted ad campaign, poaching Paul Marcarelli the ‘Can you hear me now?’ Guy, from Verizon for a series of commercials.
Promising reliability within 1% of Verizon’s, Sprint followed up the commercial series with a significantly discounted unlimited plan announced this month that offers five lines at $90.
While customers may be cheering Verizon’s return to unlimited plans, there is the sobering reality that this may be a limited-time offer for consumers. Per Verizon’s spokesperson Kate Jay, the company plans to keep “unlimited option” in their portfolio, but “there could be evolution” in the future. It remains to be seen if that development involves discontinuing the unlimited plan once again.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]