July 11, 2011, 1:53 PM — If you or your company use Verizon Wireless as a primary mobile carrier, you're going to want to remind people to type #DATA into their phones every once in a while.
Last Thursday Verizon Wireless dropped its $30/month unlimited data plan that became its compulsory standard plan for smartphones in January, just before it introduced its version of the iPhone.
The $30 plan was a big improvement over the skimpy $15-for-150MB/month version it ended at the same time.
The new plan gives you 2GB/month for $30, which Verizon is trying to sweeten by offering to text you with warnings of when you're getting close to your limit, and providing ways to calculate ahead of time how much wireless data you'll use, and check on the fly how much of your quota you've eaten.
Texting #DATA to VZW will give you an instant update, as will going to MyVerizonWireless and looking at your account info.
The data usage calculator Verizon Wireless posted is a little more complete than you'd think. It does list networking tasks so generically it's impossible to accurately estimate your costs, which is what you'd expect.
The idiot-friendly interface features bright green sliders customer can move around to guess how much data would be involved in email, web access and streaming media.
As a way to do capacity or cost planning, the calculator is about a useful as a GPS that can help you navigate to Chicago, but is equally likely to drop you in Lake Michigan as at the gate of Wrigley Field.
But it acknowledges the myriad differences among devices, the ways customers use its network and vagaries of throughput- and connection-rates of radio-based networking by dividing all hardware being measured into three classes: all smartphones, all computers with a 3G mobile link, and all computers with 4G.
Checking your account online or by texting #DATA will give you and your users a more accurate read on how much data you use and how much extra you'll have to pay, if any.