June 21, 2011, 7:49 AM —
The standard response at this point is to say that the bandwidth saturation problem is the carrier's problem because they are just being greedy, won't improve their network, blah blah blah. OK, so put yourself in their shoes. Come up with a 5-year network hardware expansion plan that can compensate for unrestricted exponential growth. Let that sink in for a minute.
For months we've heard rumors and warnings that Verizon is planning to drop its unlimited data plans soon. Well now it sounds like 'soon' has a date attached: July 7th. At least, that's what Droid-Life is telling us, and to corroborate Android Central shared an email that's supposed to have come from Verizon's South Area VP of Marketing and Sales Lee Williams. And lastly, AllThingsD confirmed with a Verizon spokesperson that the company was moving to a usage-based model in July.
Droid-Life lists pricing, starting at 2 GB for $30/month and going up to 10 GB for $80/month. Adding tethering gives an additional $2 GB and an additional $20. So for example, 4 GB with tethering will cost $50/month. Additional data will cost $10/GB.
For comparison, Verizon now charges $30/month for unlimited data; no one is going to benefit from this new pricing structure.
The one ever-so-slightly bright side is that 4G LTE will cost the same as 3G. Of course, you'll be able to burn through your data even faster.
The Lee Williams email (sent to Verizon employees) didn't include any numbers or specifics, but said:
As a result, we are evolving our approach around how we package our data solutions and pricing to our customers. Coming soon, Verizon Wireless will move from our existing pricing format to a structure designed to allow customers to choose the right data solution that best aligns with their needs.
With the new usage based pricing plans, the vast majority of our customers will be able to enjoy their typical level of data consumption for the same value that they outlay today. Additionally, for those who have greater requirements for data, we will have solutions that they can tailor to their
Nice spin, eh? Here's an idea, Verizon. If you want to "tailor" things to our unique needs, how about going all the way. If we're paying $30 for 2 GB, how about you refund us $15 for any month we use less than 1 GB? If bytes are the commodity you're making them out to be, that sounds fair to me. Alternatively, give us 'roll-over' data. The truth is, many months I don't use more the 2 GB of data. But then in a month where I'm traveling a lot I might use more. It stinks that I can use 500 megs of data for eleven months of the year, then on the twelfth month use 3 GB and they're going to charge me an extra $10.
The exact dates and figures are still technically rumor at this point, but if you were thinking of renewing your contract anyway it might make sense to do it before July 7th. The leaks suggest that renewed contracts using the same hardware might be able to retain the old unlimited plan, and Droid Life even suggests that it might be possible that all existing customers will be able to keep the unlimited plan as long as they keep a contract going (even if they upgrade to a new phone).
I don't think that's likely, but it's a point that needs clarification. If the tiered plans only impact new customers then, well, no harm, no foul. But if loyal, long-term Verizon customers are suddenly going to have to pay more for their data, it'd be nice to know ahead of time. July 7th is just around the corner; I for one am going to be visiting a Verizon store to see what my options are.
[Update on this: Back to Droid Life again, where they've unearthed a screenshot from, presumably, some internal Verizon website, saying Existing customers can keep their current pricing when renewing or upgrading. Let's hope this is legit!]