Unlimited data has long been a big competitive promise. Now, Verizon Wireless customers will pay a little more for the right to watch all the videos, check all the e-mail and do all the social media they want on their smartphones.
Verizon Wireless just announced that subscribers who have long enjoyed low rates on unlimited data plans will be hit with higher bills. Customers who signed up for Verizon’s unlimited plan before 2011 will now pay another $20 a month for access beginning with their November 15 bills, save a few who won’t experience the price increase until their contracts expire.
“We continuously evaluate the price of our plans and service, so we’re increasing the price of unlimited data plans by $20 per line per month for customers no longer under contract with Verizon Wireless,” the company said in a statement. “At the same time, we’re also offering customers currently on our unlimited data plan the added benefit of purchasing a new phone using our monthly device payment plan, instead of paying full price upfront for the device. This option is available to all unlimited data plan users once their current contract period ends.”
For the Sake of Service?
The tail end of that quote seems to points to Verizon’s reasoning. The company is working hard to get customers to transition into tiered plans with clear restrictions on how much multimedia — movies, songs and videos — they can watch on their smartphones.
Practically speaking, the change means that customers who are paying $30 a month for unlimited data will now pay $50. That pushes the average monthly bill up to $100 by the time you add talk and text into the bucket. Verizon is trumpeting the “better service” message in its announcement.
“These changes will allow Verizon to continue to maintain the highest standards of network performance for all our customers,” the company said. “And it’s worth noting that Verizon does not manage the data connection speeds — often called throttling — for its customers, including those who have kept or plan to keep their unlimited data plans.”
Verizon Is Not Alone
The good news is this probably doesn’t affect you, even if you are a Verizon customer , at least not yet. The company said 99 percent of its customers are not on unlimited plans and those who are could save money by switching to Verizon plans based on their actual data usage. Not all customers on unlimited plans actually use as much data as they think.
“Verizon will not increase the price on any lines with an unlimited data plan that is currently in a two-year contract until the customer completes that contract or enters into a new contract,” the company said. “This increase does not affect government or corporate accounts that have unlimited data.”
Verizon is not the only wireless carrier to raise its rates in recent days. Sprint last month announced plans to raise the price of its unlimited plan by $10. That puts Sprint’s unlimited talk, text and data at $70 a month starting October 16.
“At $70 a month, Sprint still beats the competition,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said at the time. “Rather than increase the price without warning, we want to give customers one last chance to take advantage of the $60 rate.”