So Long Unlimited Verizon Data Plans, We Hardly Knew You

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Yep, you can pretty much kiss those Verizon unlimited data plans goodbye. We’d heard their demise was coming, and now we’re hearing it’s nearly here: Verizon will roll out new definitively limited data plans on July 7th, reports Droid Life.

Verizon’s confirmed plan changes are coming without getting into specifics, admitting it “will move to a more usage based model in July,” according to AllThingsD.

When I bought my Verizon iPhone 4 this past February, I paid $30 for unlimited phone data and another $20 for 2GB of tethered data (that is, data accessed by tethering my iPhone to my laptop). The good news for me (and anyone else presently under contract) is that those contract rates should be steadfast until the contract timeline’s up. Also: if you want in on “unlimited,” the window closes in roughly two weeks.

The bad news for anyone getting into a new contract with Verizon after July 6th: The new data plans will cost significantly more for less.

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If all you want is phone data, Droid Life says you’ll have three options come July 7th: $30/month for 2GB, $50/month for 5GB, or $80/month for 10GB. Add $20/month to any of those three for another 2GB of tethering data. It’s not made clear whether the tethering option’s 2GB of data is supplemental or standalone, but I’d assume the latter, since that’s how it works today. And if I’m assuming correctly, that also means tethering-wonks like me are tier-capped at 2GB. You can go over, of course, but it’ll be $10 per 1GB used, also the same as it works today.

It sounds like tablet plans are getting a hike, too, rising to $30 a month for 2GB (to be fair, the current plan runs $20 a month for 1GB, so you’re getting a little more with the new plan, if not proportionately so).

The changes are said to be 3G and 4G agnostic, so there’s really no reason not to spring for a 4G phone at this point.

Verizon’s justification for any of this? Droid Life claims it has a Verizon company memo, in which the author—an Area Vice President of Marketing and Sales Operations—tells employees the company’s old data pricing tiers were crafted “to address a somewhat different customer need profile than what we are seeing and can expect in the future.”

Consider this. Data usage has more than doubled over the last three years. Consumers and business users alike are doing more and more with their mobile devices. The notion of “send and end” has migrated to “managing multiple aspects of one’s lifestyle through mobility.” Whether it’s social media (85%+ of Smartphone users), mobile internet (88%+ of Smartphone users), or email/applications (71%+ of Smartphone users), this usage has one thing in common—dramatically increased demand for data and media consumption.

As a result, we are evolving our approach around how we package our data solutions and pricing to our customers. Coming soon, Verizon Wireless will move from our existing pricing format to a structure designed to allow customers to choose the right data solution that best aligns with their needs.

And now it gets interesting. AT&T charges $15/month for a paltry 200MB, $25/month for 2GB and $45/month for 4GB. Ignoring the 200MB plan, which arguably benefits no one, AT&T’s options rate slightly less (2GB) and more (4GB) expensive. And unlike the rumored Verizon price matrix, AT&T doesn’t offer high-end rate plans, making early July prime time for a potential price-plan response.

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