Verizon Will Now Sell You All The Unlimited Data You Can Use… For An Hour

Image courtesy of Ben Roffelsen Photography

We usually think of data as something that cycles monthly: your mobile bill comes once a month, and it has all your data charges on it. Bandwidth you use on the 1st is essentially interchangeable with bandwidth you use on the 15th or 30th. But Verizon is apparently tired of thinking monthly, and is now going a little shorter-term. As in, hourly.

The nation’s biggest cell phone carrier this week launched a new option that lets subscribers buy unlimited data in half-hour or hour-long chunks.

The service is called PopData. The terms are these: you have to enable the My Verizon app and let it be aware of your location and push notifications to you. If a PopData session is available in the area where you currently are, then you can buy it for $2 for 30 minutes or $3 for an hour. From the moment your session begins, you’re charged for the whole thing, even if you drop out of LTE range or lose service. The full details are available in Verizon’s FAQ.

The location-based limits may seem strange, but Verizon says they’re a network management tool. Basically, if you’re someplace where the network is running too much traffic at once, or where it’s not strong enough, they may not be able to sell you the opportunity to binge a huge amount bandwidth-heavy content for free.

Verizon’s standard overage charge is $15 per up to one GB of data used (if you go over by 50 MB or 950 MB, it’s still $15 for the month), so whether PopData is a good deal or not depends how data-intensive the thing you want to do is.

If you absolutely need to stream something in true 1080p right now, that can use up to 3 GB in an hour so the temporary exemption from limits may theoretically save you as much as $45. On the other hand, if you find yourself needing half-hour sessions three times a week, that’s nearly $25 and maybe you just want to get a different data plan.

One use case that may make PopData popular? You can indeed use it for tethering. On the go and absolutely need to get that giant PDF file off your laptop and to your boss on a deadline? A fair number of people may find that $2 worth it.

As for why not just use free WiFi wherever you are, Verizon claims that its 4G LTE network is a “faster, more secure connection than most public WiFi hotspots,” which may be true. Public WiFi is ubiquitous, but known neither for being safe nor, generally, for being particularly fast.

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