Verizon Cracks Down On Unlimited Data Users, Claims Nobody Wants Unlimited Data Anyway

from the tell-us-what-we-want dept

Back in 2011, AT&T and Verizon eliminated their unlimited data plans, instead shoving users toward metered plans with limited data allotments. While the two companies did “grandfather” their existing unlimited data users at the time, they’ve been engaged in a quiet war to drive these users off the plans for years, ranging from AT&T’s decision to block Facetime from working unless users signed up for metered plans, to throttling these users (and then in some instances lying about it). This is all of course accompanied by a constant barrage of rate hikes (AT&T imposed another $5 bump just last week).

Six years after first getting rid of the plans, Verizon shows no sign of backing off its crackdown of these unwanted users. The company this week confirmed that it was taking new aim at unlimited consumers, the company confirming that it’s now telling any user that consumes more than 200 GB per month that they will be booted off the Verizon network:

“Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a small group of customers on unlimited plans who use more than 200GB a month that they must move to a Verizon Plan by February 16, 2017,” Verizon spokesperson Kelly Crummey told Ars today.”

Of course, the biggest plan Verizon advertises is 30 GB for $130 per month. Users can call and get larger plans, but they’d best expect to take out a second mortgage to pay for them. While Verizon was busy tightening the noose on its dwindling and data hungry unlimited users, it was also busy bumping activation and phone upgrade fees from $20 to $30, citing “increased costs” that have actually declined as the company continues to set earnings records thanks to metered billing and the company’s usage caps.

And while it’s understandable that Verizon would want to crack down on users on older data plans that give them a better value, the company continues to insist that nobody wants unlimited data. Just last September, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo again proclaimed that nobody needs an unlimited data plan. The company went so far as to hire a consultant willing to pen a blog post in which he claimed the consumer desire for simpler, unlimited data plans was just a “gut feeling” detached from any reality:

“So, while unlimited data may sound attractive, there is no practical effect of data limits on the majority of users. Understanding this should bring rationality to a discussion that is often held on a ?gut feeling? level. Keeping adequate speed and performance while allowing all users to share the limited commodity we call wireless data is the fair way to deal with wireless connectivity. And ultimately, that is what is beneficial for wireless consumers.”

To be clear, small cells and WiFi offloading have made great inroads in helping carriers handle the video load. T-Mobile and Sprint have certainly found a way to offer users unlimited data, albeit with some net neutrality trampling caveats. Sprint, for example, now throttles all games, music and video for unlimited data users by default, then charges them a premium if they want these services to run at full speed. To try and combat these new plans Verizon briefly tried to market its metered data plans as “limitless” (as in, they don’t throttle them like Sprint) but was soundly mocked for the effort.

All told, the industry still can’t quite figure out that if you can’t actually offer unlimited data, you shouldn’t advertise unlimited data. They’re still also struggling with the concept that in a truly competitive market, consumers tell you what they want (and hopefully, you provide it). In wireless, executives still apparently think it’s the other way around.

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “Verizon Cracks Down On Unlimited Data Users, Claims Nobody Wants Unlimited Data Anyway”

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43 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Unlimited data is the only reason Verizon still has a loyal paying customer in me. As soon as I lose that, I’m off to another carrier. It’s not as if their service is very good in my area anyway (0-2 bars at work and at home, huge deadzone everywhere in-between).

Now I don’t consume 200GB a month (I don’t even come close to half of that), but I definitely use more than their highest tier data cap (CAP CAP CAP CAP YES IT’S A FUCKING CAP WORD WEASELS) at a lower price.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What contract is that? VZW hasn’t offered unlimited data since 2011, which means the last 2 year contract for unlimited data should have expired in 2013. That means they’ve been allowing customers to keep their non-contract unlimited data for an additional 3 years before beginning to do anything about it. None of those contracts ever said “we will provide unlimited data with no price change ad infinitum”. OP is right that everyone is lucky they’ve been allowed to keep it as long as they have.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

actually that 2 year contract, is you pay for 2 years and can’t back out. without penalty. After the 2 year you can back out of the contract with no penalty fee. The unlimited portion, stays with you as long as you do not terminate your service or switch plans.

I personally have a fixed rate, internet, myself They can not raise the price cost on. They can give me discounts of fees but they can never raise it beyond what I agreed to on day one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Products get phased out everywhere, all the time.”

That is hardly the point now is it? The only reason for caps and therefore getting rid of old unlimited plans is to facilitate the “introduction” of their internet “packages” offering you a cornucopia of website choices and combinations including but not limited to their very own zero based video services. You are in luck because they are creating an internet service just like your old cable tv used to be, isn’t that great?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s costing them the money they could be making by charging more on tiered plans. It’s purely a money grab. We all know that wireless data is NOT a “limited commodity”, but there’s not much we can do about it other than complain. All of the carriers are not exactly equal in service quality for everyone, and they all offer essentially the same things, so voting with your wallet doesn’t really get you very far.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: No Excuse for Data Caps

Let’s start with this. There is no excuse for a cable, fiber or copper ISP to have data caps. The only purpose for such data caps is to invent the concept of “Zero Rated” and make money from third parties (eg, Netflix).

Now similarly for a mobile network. If your network is overloaded, this is an instantaneous problem at a particular tower. A tower is overloaded because too much population density is forced to use too few towers / channels / frequencies in that area.

If you have sufficient capacity at a tower for the density of people in that area, then there is no need for wireless data caps. It might be reasonable to throttle individual data streams to ensure there is enough capacity. But if this throttling reduces individual data streams to a crawl, then this is proof of having built insufficient capacity.

If you have sufficient capacity, then it doesn’t matter how far into the billing cycle that you are watching Netflix. Watching Netflix on the 30th day of the billing cycle doesn’t strain the network any more than on the following day, which is the first day of the billing cycle. So why have data caps?

This brings me back to: data caps are an excuse to make money on the side by having “Zero Rating” to extort third parties such as Netflix.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: No Excuse for Data Caps

“If you have sufficient capacity at a tower for the density of people in that area, then there is no need for wireless data caps. It might be reasonable to throttle individual data streams to ensure there is enough capacity. But if this throttling reduces individual data streams to a crawl, then this is proof of having built insufficient capacity.”

What you are describing has nothing to do with data caps. This has to do with overselling bandwidth. The network cannot run out of “data”, it can only run out of bandwidth at times that too many users are utilizing a tower at the same time. This can be managed with throttling (or, you know, not overselling your network to begin with), but data caps will, at best, mean there will be less congestion at the end of the month when more users have reached their cap and are no longer consuming bandwidth.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s no such thing as unlimited data. The physical limitations of the specification and the duration paid for comprise a hard limit on the amount of data that can be provided.

I’m fine with “unlimited” plans going away because they never provided them and they never intended to. What they should sell are unmetered plans which provide access to X bit-rate for Y time-period. It’s the customers’ decision whether they make use of the connection or allow it to idle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Unintentional hilarity in their claims

we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon,

While an overloaded network would interfere with a "great mobile experience", they have a lot of other more pressing problems to solve before they trot out that excuse to anything other than laughter. The average customer experience is far from "great" even in areas where nobody is overloading the network by "abusing" their unlimited data plan (that is, actually using the plan as it is marketed).

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Find and Replace

“So, while unlimited air may sound attractive, there is no practical effect of oxygen limits on the majority of users. Understanding this should bring rationality to a discussion that is often held on a “gut feeling” level. Keeping adequate partial pressure of oxygen while allowing all users to share the limited commodity we call air is the fair way to deal with breathing. And ultimately, that is what is beneficial for air-breathing humans.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Find and Replace

Not to be a jerk, but high doses of oxygen is poisonous. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity

Air in general, contains about 20% oxygen:
By volume, dry air contains 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen,[1] 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. Wikipedia

So yes, limiting oxygen levels would actually save billions of lives and I really doubt the Telecom’s would disagree as I’m sure they still want to milk every last dollar out of them.

hahaha says:

what everyone should do

run up to your 200 GB cap and hten shut off

then sue when they try and give you all overage fees ….

imaigne 10000000 people using 200gb then turning off the net

with my 15 megabit speed thats give or take 100GB a day so 2 days worth of internet

things to pirate, movies, tv and single player cracked games
haha

2 days at 15 megabit , at 30 megabit its a single day ….

now imagine 100 megabit 4 hrs worth think of the power savings alone…..

think of how les syou get spied on
think how much les syou get tracked

they are doing you all a favor

al (profile) says:

Data limits

I’ll believe their claims that “nobody wants unlimited data” when they release data on how much extra revenue they make by people exceeding (and paying a hefty markup) their data limits

If overage or excess on a plan was paid for as a pro-rata to the basic allowance within their plan then they might have a better case for saying “nobody wants unlimited data, they can pay for what they use”

Alfred bryanr says:

I have been a customer od Verizon for over 12 years and I have enjoyed having unlimited data because it keeps me from using the big Internet companies such as at&t Comcast just to name f couple. But to change your plans and make it hard foe people to have Internet at home without having to spend even more money is crazy. It sounds to me like all the other companies all you guys want to do is take money from hard working Americans. And that is ashamed.

John85851 (profile) says:

Customer confusion

I think the root issue is that most people don’t really know how much data they’re consuming. Then they go to buy a phone and the salesman tries to sell them on the more expensive unlimited plan (or at least they used to) by saying it’ll let people stream Netflix while they’re on the road. Well, that’s a great service!
But how much data does Netflix use over a cell signal and if it knows the user is on a cell phone? Even if a person watched Netflix every day while on the bus or train, that might only be 5-10 hours a week. How much data is that, really?
This is why people have a “gut feeling” that they need the unlimited plan to avoid any overage charges.

Ric torres says:

Verizon throttleing or safety mode

Verizon is bs they should allow u to use the data from your next billing cycle if u choose to do so instead of makeing the net completely unusable i meen if they can roll over your data they can and should allow it both ways you know hell im no techspert but the cell phone works just like citizen band radio and that shit is free so do not give me the bs about user experience bla
Bla bla hell i got a notice in the mail the other day saying they put a fiber optic cable in on my property without getting my permission and they were informing me that i was owed some money for them doing this can u believe that shit just dig up my yard put thier shit in and then tell me almost a year later i should have just dug the fucker up with my rototiller and sent them this big ball of fiber optic spagetti and said ah i found this when i was planting a garden i hope its not yours or important ha ha ha chalk one up for the users

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