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.