Verizon's New 'Unlimited' Data Plans Still Have Very Real, Problematic Limits
from the terrible-precedent dept
Back in 2007, Verizon was forced to strike an agreement with the New York State Attorney General for marketing data plans as “unlimited” when the plans had very clear limits. Twelve years later and it’s not clear the company has learned much of anything.
The latest case in point: Verizon this week once again revamped the company’s not really “unlimited” data plans, and they once again come with some very real limits. For example the company’s entry level “unlimited” plan still bans HD video entirely, throttling everything to 480p, then forcing you to pay extra should you want to view a video stream as its originator intended. But all of the company’s plans feature some kind of limits with the goal (always) of upselling you to a more expensive plan should you, you know, actually want unfettered access to the internet and use your device as intended (say as a mobile hotspot):
Verizon has added a new wrinkle to the mix by banning 4K video streaming entirely unless you subscribe to a new Verizon 5G plan (still barely available in most areas) for another additional $10 per month. And again, all of these plans have limits that result in your “unlimited” connection being throttled should you, you know, actually use it. This throttling occurs after 25 GB/mo on Play More Unlimited, 50 GB/mo on Do More Unlimited and 75 GB/mo on Get More Unlimited.
Other mobile carriers like Sprint have similarly experimented with throttling games, video, and music, then charging you more money if you want to bypass these arbitrary restrictions. Again, the entire function of this model is to upsell wireless data customers (who already pay some of the highest prices for mobile data in the developed world) to even more expensive plans if they just want their damn connection to work. Customers who don’t know what a gigabyte is or what these restrictions mean will usually migrate to the more expensive plan “to be safe.” It’s a pricing funnel designed to scare consumers into paying more.
It’s fairly impressive that twelve years after Verizon was dinged for not understanding the definition of unlimited — and after fifteen years of net neutrality debates — some people still don’t see the terrible precedent these kinds of pricing plans set. Letting ISPs impose arbitrary restrictions, then charge you more money to get around them, isn’t a model that’s going to be great for innovators over the longer haul. And with the triple punch of regulatory capture at the FCC, the death of net neutrality, and looming consolidation/competition erosion courtesy of the Sprint T-Mobile merger, there’s a whole lot more of this sort of thing over the horizon.