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Verizon Wireless Brings Back “Unlimited” Data

In the early days of the iPhone, mobile data was unlimited, and voice calls and text messages were rationed. That flipped as usage evolved: now data is metered while carriers practically give away text messages and voice minutes. But thanks largely to Sprint and T-Mobile (see “T-Mobile and Sprint Announce Unlimited Data (for Higher Prices),” 19 August 2016), unlimited data is making a comeback, with Verizon now announcing its own “unlimited” data plan. (AT&T offers an unlimited data plan too, but only to customers who have AT&T wireless and DirecTV or U-verse TV residential service.)

I put “unlimited” in quotes because there is still a limit, but it’s not onerous. After you’ve used 22 GB of data in a month, Verizon may prioritize other users’ connections over yours, effectively throttling your speed. However, Verizon said that it doesn’t expect to do that often. There are also a couple of other minor catches: you must agree to paperless billing and enroll in auto pay.

Pricing for Verizon’s unlimited data plan is reasonable, starting at $80 per month, including unlimited talk and text. Here’s how that works for multiple lines:

  • 1 line: $80 per month
  • 2 lines: $70 per month per line, for a total of $140 per month
  • 3 lines: $54 per month per line, for a total of $162 per month
  • 4 lines: $45 per month per line, for a total of $180 per month

Verizon’s unlimited plan also includes HD video streaming, mobile hotspot functionality, calling and texting to and from Canada and Mexico, and up to 500 MB per day of 4G LTE roaming data in Canada and Mexico.

Given that Verizon is typically the most expensive network and the slowest to compete with its rivals on plans and price, the fact that Verizon is bringing back unlimited data at a reasonable cost is a big deal and a testament to the power of market competition. Would this have happened if AT&T had successfully purchased T-Mobile (see “The Impact of AT&T Buying T-Mobile,” 21 March 2011)?


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Comments about Verizon Wireless Brings Back “Unlimited” Data
(Comments are closed.)

Nick F  2017-02-13 13:06
Carriers bringing back unlimited data while Comcast (and likely others) look to implement caps while admitting it's purely for money. Maybe we'll never break the ISP monopoly, but we'll have to rely on carriers to disrupt it. Obviously we'd be going from one devil to another, but most people would be going from one choice to five.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2017-02-13 14:45
We're not quite there yet, but with 5G, it's possible that wireless carriers will begin competing with hardline ISPs in earnest:
Hector I Macedo  2017-02-13 17:53
One of my acquaintances who has a relatively highg possition in Verizon commented that "Unlimited" is an elastic term and that also after someone hogs a lot of "space", the data is throtled to a slower speed so the limit is not so much in the quantity but in the speed.
Andrew Cohen  2017-02-13 21:06
If I'm not mistaken, this change is accompanied by eliminating two middle-tier plans. Before this change, there were also 12GB and 16GB plans. Now it's just 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and unlimited. I'm currently on 12GB and it's just enough for my family with 3 iPhones. But if we were to need a little more, it used to be only another $10/month for 16GB. Now, when I just logged into my Verizon Wireless account, I discovered the only larger plan available is Unlimited which costs another $30/month. There's nothing in between. Please tell me I'm missing something.
Dennis B. Swaney  2017-02-13 22:31
Nope, Verizon is still heavily into price gouging.