While most wireless operators in North America have already moved away from the once ubiquitous unlimited data plan, many grandfathered the changes in, meaning that if you had signed up for Verizon’s $30/month unlimited plan before the tiered data model came into affect, you got to keep your plan.
But of course companies like Verizon really don’t want anyone on an unlimited plan anymore, as it simply isn’t cost or resource effective, which is why Big Red is using LTE as an excuse to put an end to unlimited data once and for all.
In a controversial announcement, give that competitors Sprint and T-Mobile still offer unlimited plans, Verizon has said that it will be moving customers onto a tiered data model if they choose to upgrade from the company’s 3G network to the faster 4G LTE. Of course customers who stick with 3G can retain their unlimited plan, but Verizon is hoping they won’t want too.
While this announcement is certain to anger some, particularly those data gluttons who have been gorging themselves on unlimited data, I am certainly not one of them. Truth be told, its par for the course that when a customer wants to change anything about service or pricing model that is since been abandoned, access to that grandfathered model will come to an end.
“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,” Fran Shammo, Verizon Communications chief financial officer said to investors. “So 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.”
In fact, both Verizon and AT&T, who allow original unlimited data customers to retain their plans, do not allow customers to take those plans with them when they change phones, meaning that I would expect such similar stipulations to be in place when upgrading from 3G to 4G LTE.
Further, with wireless networks currently strained to their limit by the insatiable appetite for data, if there’s one group of people I don’t feel sorry for; it’s those who, through their excessive data consumption, slow the network experience for the rest of the general public.
Regardless of how one feels about abandoning unlimited data plans once and for all, the reality is that such measures are necessary because, as I’ve said before, even our most advanced 4G LTE networks won’t be able to handle the increased data traffic our constantly connected existence is expected to generate in the next few years. So, for those looking for other more affordable connection alternatives, once again Wi-Fi may be able to help.
Simply put, as companies try to achieve a constantly connected reality for customers amidst a startling proliferation of mobile devices, they need to develop simple and effective ways for smartphones and tablets to move freely between Wi-Fi and mobile broadband networks. Sure its not technological advancement in the strictest sense, but without the use of unlimited data plans and until a more efficient use of spectrum can be found, it’s really all we have.