Verizon May Introduce Tiered Data Plans As Early As Next Week

One month ago, Verizon Wireless’s CFO hinted in an interview that the company might follow AT&T’s lead and replace unlimited data plans with tiered ones. Now Engadget is reporting that the switch might come on July 29th. Because this is just a rumor so far, there’s no word yet on whether Verizon will offer the same 200 MB / 2 GB split as AT&T or whether it will grandfather in existing unlimited customers.

“Verizon switching to AT&T-style limited data plans later this month?” [Engadget]

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  1. sufreak says:

    I hope for this, but I hope they do it better than AT&T. Rather than $15/200MB $25/2GB, I would love to see a $10/$20/$30 1GB/2GB/Unlimited option. Make it a real tier rather than a BS way to get rid of unlimited.

    • nbs2 says:

      The model you suggest isn’t happening. There is no incentive in your model for people to drop tiers, especially if they aren’t penalizing overages to the hilt. Even then, if overage charges are high, unscientific surveys, such as the one at Ars, suggest that most people use under 1GB. Verizon isn’t going to stand for most people dropping to the lowest tier. Additionally, I believe they are looking to kill off unlimited plans totally. We’re back to the days of AOL, swapping hours for MB.

      I suspect they will simply fall in line with ATT. A low tier for casual users and a high tier for everybody else. I even expect the pricing to be in line. Perhaps we will see a $10/$20 breakdown to help entice customers to drop unlimited plans and draw folks from ATT, but they aren’t exactly hurting for users.

  2. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    Once again, we should file this under, “Not surprising.”

    That said, I can’t wait to see the rumor mill use this as evidence for a Verizon iPhone. Dammit, it’ll be here this time, we swear it! We has sources! SOURCES.

  3. c!tizen says:

    This is just another way for them to get out of all of the Unlimited hype they’ve help built up over the years. If they really wanted to make it advantageous for their customers then they would only charge for what is used inside of a tiered plan. If I pay $15.00 a month for 500MB, but I only use 2MB in a month then I should be paying closer to $0.03 than $15.00. What’s fair is fair, right?

  4. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    If they do, they’ll have to allow current users out of their contracts, right? Which probably means that my wife will be able to dump them and switch to Straight Talk. Which has unlimited everything for $45 a month.

    • Grabraham says:

      most likely not. Most of the time they grandfather everyone and roll things out on new plans

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Doubtful. They’ll probably just include a grandfather clause that keeps current users within their contracts and say that the new plans are effectively available as of xx/xx/xxxx.

    • rtwigg says:

      Take a look at [spamvertisement removed] first!

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

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        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

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  5. apd09 says:

    I for one an kind of looking forward to this, my wife and I both have Blackberry’s on Verizon and pay 60 a month for unlimited data between the 2 phones yet only used 13MB last month. I know I am paying way more than I am actually using.

    • billbillbillbill says:

      I am looking forward to this. My wife has a droid and we pay $30 for 200 mb of usage. I just haven’t been able to stomach another $30 for me so I am using my old Palm Centro which is on its last legs. The day they switch to tiered is the day I get a new smartphone.

      It is smart from their part for those PDA people who need a phone for scheduling but are not huge data users. $15 each a month for $200 mb each will fit us great, cost the same as we are paying now, and keep us as customers.

      • CartmanPat says:

        Let me guess: you must be…at least slightly…old, right?

        • billbillbillbill says:

          Not sure who you are directing the “old” question at, but we are 27 and with kids, 1 income, and an upside down house payment, I can hardly stomach the $125 cell phone bill I pay now ($70 family plan, $15 for texting, $30 data for her). I am not willing to drop another $30 for data for me so 2 $15 packages that work on the androids would be happy news to me.

        • apd09 says:

          or are you directing it at me? My wife and I are both 33, have 2 incomes, are slightly upside down on a mortgage (~25,000) and are trying to have kids.

        • SOhp101 says:

          I’m 25 and no matter how hard I try, I’ve never gone over 500mb. My typical usage is

        • DanRydell says:

          I’m 28 and average 100 MB a month on an iPhone.

  6. nonzenze says:

    So I’m a heavy smartphone user and I never get past 200-300MB a month. What are you guys doing that gets you into the GB cap?I even tether my laptop for normal browsing/pandora and such like when I’m traveling (which is a few days a month) and I’ve never gone past 400MB doing that.

    I’m not sperging, I’m just really at a loss as to how someone could use that much wireless bandwidth. Help me out.

    • apd09 says:

      What do you use with the smartphone that takes up that much data?

      I am only curious because as I mentioned above my wife and I used a combined 13MB last month, so I am wondering about what apps or usage cause major data.

      • nonzenze says:

        Heh, I thought I was the *light* user here. The main offenders are probably YouTube, Skype, Pandora and SPBTV. The desktop version of YouTube and Skype (when tethering) are hogs.

      • Xay says:

        I’ve been using Slacker and Pandora heavily and I am already around 2GB for this month. My billing cycle ends mid august.

    • drizzt380 says:

      But don’t you see? You are between 200 and 300 mbs a month, sometimes even 400. Thats not in the lowest tier. So you would need the higher tier plan for that extra bandwidth. Bah I say.

      But the only time I’ve ever seen anyone get high amounts that would exceed the cap is with a jailbroken iphone with tethering enabled. Of course, AT&T is going to allow you to ‘enable’ the tethering option for $20/month nowadays. They don’t give you any more bandwidth though. I hate them.

    • Rachacha says:

      I am with you on the phone, I usually average 2-300MB/month with a combination of e-mail, web searches and streaming audio/video

      When I use a cellular data modem, I can easily hit +2gigs in a month using my laptop.

    • samandiriel says:

      I myself use 400-500MB a month with my Droid for various google services and web browsing. If I was a regular youtube watcher or online game playing, I’m sure I’d being double that amount.

    • Stacks_3 says:

      I use my iphone for 10hr/day at work, streaming sirius/xm & MLB TV (day games). Night time i use MLB TV and during the fall on sundays, DirecTV NFL Superfan. I peaked at 12GB in December and since April (baseball season) have averaged between 7GB and 10GB/ month in data usage.

      I can never leave AT&T, for fear of a $3,000 data bill.

    • failurate says:

      Internet radio without wifi access. I’m at 600MB and only 14 days into my billing cycle. That and I am only on my third month of ownership, so I am still downloading apps to try.

  7. aka Cat says:

    But, I thought it was already tiered? I had two plan choices for my mifi, a low cap (250mb, maybe?) and “unlimited” which is actually a 5gb cap.

  8. mike2128 says:

    Tiered plans are going to be a necessity for the 700 MHz ‘C Block’ frequency band that Verizon won at auction for its LTE coverage. After lobbying from Google and others, the FCC mandated that this particular block (the most coveted in terms of value to the operator) must remain open to consumer choice (no more operator gate-keeping with regards to what devices get activated).

    As it stands right now, every carrier can say ‘oh this device uses FAR too much bandwidth and is deemed detrimental to the network’s performance and reliability … denied access.’ Thus, they can offer unlimited plans, so long as the devices allowed to work have a theoretical limit in terms of what they can really achieve.

    Without any restrictions, they’re left with no quality control filtering. So a customer wants to activate Droid Whatever, that’s fine. But when Johnny FTP wants to host a file-sharing server and transmit TB’s of data on a monthly basis, how can you say that the amount of spectrum he’ll consume is equally priced as a run-of-the-mill smartphone? They can’t maintain a reliable network if there’s no control. So essentially they’re saying, fine, do whatever you want, but be ready to pay for the cost you’re incurring on us if you’re in that 2% of bandwidth hoggers.

    • thisisit says:

      naa that’s not really correct.

      Tiered plans are a way for the company to make every consumer pay the absolute maximum they are willing to pay, and for the company to get better averaged profits.

      Tiered plans for anything (comcast, netflix, whatever..) are never priced proportionally. There’s always a ‘golden option’ which the company designs for most consumers, and then the low end, and high end users end up on vary unfavorable terms with plans that give huge profits to the company.

      Basically imagine a store selling apples. You can buy two apples for $9, three apples for $10, or four apples for $20. Most people with common sense will buy the three apples for $10. If you only have $9 in your pocket however, you’re forced to get the two apples. The store makes a huge profit. If you’re rich and got money to blow, and you absolutely must have 4 apples, you pay $20. Company again makes huge profit.

      Often the mainstream plan ($10 for three apples) has small profit margins, or it just breaks even. However because the company gets such huge profits from the extremes of the spectrum, their average profit is much more substantial than any kind of one size fits all plan.

  9. greyb1 says:

    They recently updated the official Verizon app on Android. Now it has a widget for data use, which seems to support the idea that the change is coming soon.

  10. MattO says:

    i have a blackberry, and i screw around on facebook on it, use a little pandora, and check my mail as well as the web – today happens to be the last day of my billing cycle, and i am only at 34 megs….so while i usually am not a fan of tiered plans, i think this could be good, if priced fairly. THAT, however, is very unlikely.

  11. SlappyFrog says:

    Food for thought in that the providers don’t get charged per bit, yet want to pass cost on per bit: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/07/should-broadband-data-hogs-pay-more-isp-economics-say-no.ars

    • mike2128 says:

      This article looks like it’s specific to landline solutions. With respect to wireless networks, coverage roll-out is not a cheap expenditure and available spectrum is a bit more constrained. And by bit more I mean a ton more. Just ask AT&T, whose 3G network has been in an ongoing roll-out period for about 4 years now and is still getting panned by the press for it’s insufficient bandwidth.

      Each tower can hold x amount of users consuming x amount of bits at a given time. If this use meets or exceeds its limits, additional towers need to be added or back-end needs to upgraded. Either way, this costs money. In the end, it DOES cost wireless carriers per bit in a roundabout way.

      • SlappyFrog says:

        Building out the network is a fixed cost regardless of how many bits flow across it.

        There are similar articles pointing out that the wireless carriers have reduced their capital expenditure over the past few years.

        Regardless, the point is this: They promised a service they had no ability/desire to provide and are now trying to “unring that bell.”

  12. Mike says:

    I hate limits, I have digital claustrophobia. I don’t want limits on anything.

  13. samandiriel says:

    OFF TOPIC: screw tiered data plans! When are they pushing out Froyo for DROID?!?! It’s been SIX MONTHS since Google released it!!

    • Gtmac says:

      Um, Android 2.2 (Froyo) was officially released at the end of June. It hasn’t even been a month yet.

      • samandiriel says:

        My mistake. Google ANNOUNCED it in January. It was released earlier than last week tho – I think March? – as Motorola has been working on it for a while now to tailor it to it’s phones and to create the update.

  14. MustWarnOthers says:

    My problem with this whole BS topic is that if you’re really concerned with pricing/data usage, offer tiered plans IN ADDITION TO the unlimited plan.

    If I saw an option to pay 10 dollars less a month, since I only use x amount of JiggaBytes as compared to what I’m playing in my unlimited plan, I would jump on it.

    The unlimited pricing plan has been working thus far. Verizon and AT&T are profitable companies, Verizon lost a bit in their profit/customer momentum due to the lack of cool phones, which they’ve changed very recently.

    It’s just idiotic to rationalize that you want to make the pricing fair for the regular user, but take away the pricing that seems to be working for the bandwidth hogs.

    • WayneB says:

      I think there shouldn’t be any “plans” at all. I don’t want to pay too much for a plan with more bandwidth than I use and I don’t want to pay a higher penalty rate for using more than a plan allows. I think it should be metered at a fixed rate and I’m willing to pay $0.00075 per megabyte. No more plans.

  15. Heresy_Fnord says:

    Last I heard, Sprint announced that it had no plans to get rid of it’s unlimited plans. Which by the way cost less than both Verizon and AT&Ts unlimited plans.

    I agree with at least one person here. If a company has so much issue with unlimited plans, don’t get rid of them entirely. Offer some tiered plan for all the silly people that want to pay for only so much bandwidth. I’m happy with my $129 unlimited plan where I and my wife don’t have to worry about using too much data or using too many texts. The day Sprint offered it’s $99 unlimited everything I switched immediately. I haven’t had an inconsistent phone bill since.

    • mike2128 says:

      In reference to my previous post about C Block 700MHz and 4G services, Sprint has no such obligations with its 2700MHz WiMax frequency and can continue to filter which devices get access to its network. It has no real risk with respect to the type of traffic that will impact its infrastructure.

      Liken a cell network to a side street and its ‘devices approval team’ to a cop running a detail. For Sprint Street, this officer is saying sure, everyone can drive down as frequently as you need to … that is, if you’re in a compact car. On Verizon Way, this officer isn’t allowed to be selective and must let everything down, including Hummers, freight trucks, etc… However, to prevent a MASSIVE traffic jam, he decides that all vehicles may only travel down once daily or risk paying a huge fine.

      That wasn’t the best analogy, but I think it kind of makes sense.

  16. vastrightwing says:

    All you people with data plans are getting screwed BIG TIME. They get you to buy these “smart phones”, which aren’t exactly cheap. They lure you in with unlimited (really capped) data plans. Then they pull the rug out from under you after you commit. I’ve also noticed that trying to buy a dumb phone is getting tougher all the time. There just aren’t very many out there anymore.

  17. chucklesjh says:

    Figures, I just got a Droid X, my first smartphone. I’ve burned through almost 500MB in the 6 days I’ve had it. I’m gonna be really pissed if this happens, unless they grandfather my plan. They really should since all of my friends are still on grandfathered Alltel data plans that are dirt cheap.

  18. VashTS says:

    Just join metro PCS. Say no to capped garbage. Stick those IPODS/IPHONES/SMARTPHONES in the garbage and move on.

    Complain about the lack of variety sure, but it’s unlimited at a rock bottom cost.

  19. CookiePuss says:

    Does Verizon currently make people buy a data plan? I’m with ATT and plan to leave as they recently started to make it mandatory to add a $15/month data plan to each smart phone, and a $20/month media pan to all media phones. Being I don’t ever use my phones to get online and dont text I cant see paying an extra $1400 over 2 years for my 3 phones.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      If you’re a dumbphone user and not a media phone or smart phone user, you wouldn’t be charged because your phone doesn’t even use any of the data services. No problem.

      • CookiePuss says:

        I avoided smart phones like the iphone and blackberries for the required data plans. I resorted to using media phones like the LG Vu for the touchscreen, better camera, ability to upgrade memory, and to install an occasional app/game.

        Point being phones like the LG Vu used to be considered dumb phones and didn’t require additional plans. Now their considered “Quick Messaging” phones and require a $20/month media package per phone.

  20. Blious says:

    Not a surprise

    I am sure they will put in some ridiculous cap that most users will HIT and then we all can get hit up with penalties

    What a joke

  21. failurate says:

    Now if we can just get them to display the usage amount in the same measurement at which they will be billing, that would be great.
    I just got the new widget/Verizon app… can’t find the toggle to change the way data measured is displayed.

  22. JonBoy470 says:

    I did 400 megs this month on my BlackBerry, thanks in no small part to using Pandora as a poor-man’s satellite radio on a both legs of a 12 hour road trip. That’s with me not using the phone at all during the day (can’t bring it into work).