Network operator Verizon Wireless confirmed the end of its unlimited data plans, to be replaced with a tiered pricing structure, as a flood of smartphones, tablets and other bandwidth-hungry devices descend on the company's network. The new pricing structure offers customers monthly plans of $30 for 2GB of data, $50 for 5GB of data and $80 for 10GB of data. A $10 plan for 75MB of data is available to customers with feature phones with limited Internet capabilities.
The decision sees Verizon following rival carriers T-Mobile and AT&T in switching from an all-you-can-eat service to a tiered approach. Changes to the pricing terms of AT&T's high-speed Internet broadband service went into effect May 2. The changes, which include additional language to several portions of the customer contract, include a data cap of 150GB per month for DSL customers and 250GB for U-Verse subscribers.
Consequently, customers who exceed their monthly data allowance will be notified after their first offense, and additional notices each time their monthly usage exceeds 65 percent, 90 percent and 100 percent of the monthly allowance. The policy changes-not unlike AT&T's mobile broadband policies, which blamed a tiny portion of users for the bulk of its network traffic-have more than AT&T's top data users concerned, with some viewing it as a possible threat to online innovation.
T-Mobile may eventually become the property of competitor AT&T, as the two companies plan a controversial merger, the company in April aimed to stay competitive with AT&T with its $80 Even More unlimited calling, texting and data plan on its 4G network. The plan is contingent on a two-year contract and features "no overage charges," according to T-Mobile. However, customers who exceed 2GB of usage per billing period, the company explained in the statement, "will still have access to unlimited data at reduced speeds until their new billing cycle."
Racing to catch up to Verizon's 4G timeline and support its own growing numbers of data users, AT&T has made a $39 billion bid to purchase competitor T-Mobile. While this would give it the wireless spectrum it needs to extend its network to 97-plus percent of the nation, it would also put more than 80 percent of the U.S. wireless market in the control of AT&T and Verizon-supremely hindering competition, critics argue, which could ultimately hurt consumers in the wallet and slow innovation.
The fourth major U.S. carrier, Sprint, offers a Simply Everything Plan-including unlimited text, Web, calling, email, social networking, GPS navigation, TV and radio-for $100 plus the $10 Premium Data add-on, or an Everything Data plan, with unlimited text, Web and calling to and from any mobile phone for $70 a month plus the $10 add-on.
Verizon recently began taking orders for the LTE-enabled version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, offering the 4G version of the device for $529. The 16GB or 32GB models are available for $529.99 and $629.99, respectively, although customers must agree to a two-year contract in order to get the tablets for those prices. The company originally listed the preorder date as June 8, and the company's Website notes consumers will still have to wait 4-6 weeks for delivery.