This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2017-02-13 at 9:43 a.m.
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Verizon Wireless Brings Back “Unlimited” Data

by Josh Centers

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) [1],” 19 August 2016), unlimited data is making a comeback, with Verizon now announcing its own “unlimited” data plan [2]. (AT&T offers an unlimited data plan [3] 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 [4] is reasonable, starting at $80 per month, including unlimited talk and text. Here’s how that works for multiple lines:

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 [5],” 21 March 2011)?