New Verizon Data Plans Coming, Likely To Kill Unlimited Data For All

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While Verizon Wireless used to offer unlimited data plans for its customers, it stopped offering all-you-can-eat data plans last July for new customers. However, those that had been grandfathered in under an unlimited data plan have still been able to pay $30 a month for an unlimited data plan for 3G and 4G phones.

But that looks as if it might come to an end this summer, when Verizon announces new "data share" plans. "LTE is our anchor point for data share, so as you come through an upgrade cycle and you upgrade in the future, you will have to go onto the data share plan, moving away from the unlimited world," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said at the J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference. Fierce Wireless first reported the story.

Verizon hasn't shared much about its upcoming data share plans, but they will work similarly to the way you can share minutes now. "Customers have told us that they want to share data, similar to how they share minutes today. We are working on plans to provide customers with that option later this year," Verizon said in a statement on its website.

"When you think about our 3G base - 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, and that's beneficial for us for many reasons, obviously," Shammo added.

Despite Shammo's statements, Verizon public relations would not confirm that those who currently have unlimited data would be forced onto another plan at the time of upgrade, Verizon spokesperson Brenda Raney did say. " We do not change customers plans under contract." Raney did not elaborate on what might happen to customers when their two-year contract expired and it is time to renew and upgrade to a new phone.

Most carriers have moved away from unlimited data plans. AT&T similarly does not offer an unlimited plan anymore. Sprint, on the other hand, does offer the plan and has hinted that it will continue to keep the unlimited data plan around even when it launches its LTE network later this year.

Update: Verizon has clarified more about this. As suspected, it will be discontinuing unlimited data once the share plan arrives for those that want to purchase a subsidized phone through the carrier or renew their contract. Here is Verizon's updated comment:

  • Customers will not be automatically moved to new data 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, i.e. Signing new contracts.
  • The same pricing and policies will be apply to all 3G and 4G LTE smartphones
  • Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan, will be able to keep that plan.