Wireless

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
data caps, grandfathering, unlimited data

Companies:
verizon



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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2017 @ 10:57am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    clemahieu (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:05am

    From what I've seen Verizon has done a ton to allow grandfathered plans, years after no longer offering them.

    Products get phased out everywhere, all the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Annonymouse, 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:07am

      Response to: clemahieu on Jan 10th, 2017 @ 11:05am

      When can we see their board and the rest of management being phased out?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roman (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:15am

      Re:

      They're not going it out of the goodness of their hearts.

      They're doing it because there is a contract in place between them and their customers that they and the customer agreed to when the service was purchased. Looks like Verizon wasn't smart enough to put an end date on it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2017 @ 4:02am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2017 @ 8:58pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      Usually for equally poor reasons.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:24am

      Re:

      Except it's a service not a product. Most services get cheaper as technology progresses. Data caps are a sham. Let them publish a months worth of SolarWinds data.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      How much do they pay you to spew this crap?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2017 @ 4:47am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:07am

    If nobody wants it, then they can offer a dozen plans with it just to market that they have the most plans of any carrier and can be the right fit for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:17am

      Re:

      The thing is, if no one uses that much data, what is it costing them to give everyone an unlimited data plan?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2017 @ 4:06am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:15am

    " if you can't actually offer unlimited data,"

    Oh but they can. Caps are a con they came up with and people accepted without question instead of.. Well. Never mind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 12:54pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2017 @ 5:57pm

        Re: No Excuse for Data Caps

        As a network engineer, and used to be a WISP. You just nailed it...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 11 Jan 2017 @ 4:44am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2017 @ 9:07pm

          Re: Re: No Excuse for Data Caps

          lets simplify the problem. The problem is one word:

          Greed

          Greed = how to make more money, while doing less. the greater the ratio more money vs doing less. the greater the greed.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 11 Jan 2017 @ 5:32am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:18am

    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).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 11:46am

    Of course, the biggest plan Verizon advertises is 30 GB for $130 per month.

    At the LTE speeds they advertise, you can burn through your 30GB a couple hours into the month.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 10 Jan 2017 @ 12:37pm

    Not just Verizon.

    I had a AT&T rep try to "helpfully" merge my iphone and ipad accounts into one - which would have caused me to lose my iphone unlimited data plan. All for my convenience, of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chumpy trump is doing his future wrong, 10 Jan 2017 @ 1:11pm

    what trump dont realize

    what trump dont realize...this will rmeove people form the net as they realize food or net and choose food.....

    the fact is this is the one thing i do not like about his choice...oh well at least i live in canada

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 10 Jan 2017 @ 1:16pm

    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."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2017 @ 5:48pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 11 Jan 2017 @ 5:34am

      Re: Find and Replace

      Except that air actually is a shared resource, unlike the proprietary networks they're overselling access on. Don't sell it if you can't provide it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    hahaha, 10 Jan 2017 @ 1:21pm

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    UniKyrn, 10 Jan 2017 @ 2:08pm

    And working for one of the "weapons makers", IE network switch makers, I get to see Vz and everybody else always asking for more features that allow them to monitor/throttle traffic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    al, 11 Jan 2017 @ 3:15am

    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"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2017 @ 4:15am

      Re: Data limits

      Technically probably none, or very little, anymore since they now have the "safety mode" that throttles your data speeds once you go over. Granted you can turn it off, so maybe they get some money from overages.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2017 @ 4:34am

    How it should work

    Because our network is a shared resource we equally divide avaliable network resources at each cell tower among the customers currently connected to that tower. By doing this we are able to eliminate data caps making our network more competitive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alfred bryanr, 11 Jan 2017 @ 4:54am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      compujas (profile), 11 Jan 2017 @ 6:05am

      Re:

      Yes. How dare these companies want to make money rather than doing the community a solid and providing services for rock bottom prices.

      /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 11 Jan 2017 @ 11:01am

        Re: Re:

        If there were strong competition they'd have no choice but to provide services for rock bottom prices (unless they found something else to compete on that their customers value).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Luke T, 11 Jan 2017 @ 7:22pm

        Re: Re: Profit

        This is a company that, this last August, bought an analytics company for $2.4 Billion...in cash. Not stock. Cash.

        They're already making money. Now they're just trying to screw over the customer.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 11 Jan 2017 @ 1:10pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2017 @ 11:11am

    Internet access in the United States is a damn joke.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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