Verizon Becomes Last Big Four Carrier to Drop Service Contracts

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-08-10 Print this article Print
Verizon Data Plans

Since its first "Un-Carrier" moves that eliminated contracts, T-Mobile has taken a number of aggressive steps beyond that. For example, the company no longer counts streaming music services against a customer's data limits.

It doesn't charge roaming fees anywhere in North America, and small amounts of data for tablets and other devices are now free. Furthermore, international roaming is free for data in most countries and it charges minimal fees for voice calls.

Verizon's new data rates, which are as low as $10 per month for tablets and devices, and $5 per month for connected watches, are similar to charges by T-Mobile and other carriers.

The result will be lower costs for most users, with bigger savings for users with the biggest data plans. However, because the charges for devices will drop off once the devices are paid for, the ultimate price will be far lower over time than it is for Verizon customers now.

As you might expect, the vocal CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere, was not silent on the new Verizon plans. Legere took to Twitter to write "first @sprint with a random, more confusing, mimic of #MobileWithoutBorders … Then @Verizonwireless 2yrs late with a lame #SimpleChoice copy?"

He followed up with another tweet. "Our mission with #uncarrier is to change to the whole wireless industry! When @VerizonWireless and @sprint copy our moves, consumers win!"

But in reality, what Verizon, T-Mobile and the others are doing is following the lead of the wireless industry pretty much everywhere else in the world. This is made a little easier, of course, because in most of the world, the wireless protocol is GSM and phones are easily moved from one network to another.

Many users have multiple phones and simply swap Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards when they want to use a different phone. While phone locking does exist outside of the United States, it usually applies only when the phone is being paid for on an installment plan.

Things are different with U.S. service providers, where Verizon Wireless and Sprint use Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) networks, while AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. Sprint and Verizon share relatively little in terms of frequencies, so unlocking their phones might not be a big gain for customers.

However, both companies comply with the CTIA's policy on unlocking phones. Perhaps more significantly, Verizon doesn't lock the GSM portion of its world phones, so there's nothing to unlock.

The result of Verizon's new, announced no-contract plan is that customers will eventually see lower costs; they will have some greater flexibility in how they use their phones, since many regional carriers can use phones set for Verizon's frequencies; and it should be good for the overall wireless industry. But will it keep T-Mobile at bay? If I were AT&T or Verizon, I'd keep my eyes on my rearview mirror.


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