Verizon Rules the Air by Killing Unlimited Data Plans

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It’s official: On July 7, Verizon Wireless will stop offering unlimited data to new smartphone subscribers.

Instead, Verizon will sell tiered data plans, starting at 2 GB for $30 per month — the same monthly price as unlimited data currently — a Verizon spokeswoman told FierceWireless.

Existing customers can hang onto their unlimited plans even after upgrading to new phones, so if you’re a new subscriber and want to lock in unlimited data with Verizon, you’ve got one day left.

(MORE: So Long Unlimited Verizon Data Plans, We Hardly Knew You)

The other price tiers are $50 per month for 5 GB and $80 per month for 10 GB. Exceeding any cap costs $10 per GB. Tethering costs $20 extra per month for all tiers and provides an extra 2 GB. If you have unlimited mobile hotspot service now, it’ll cost $30 per month starting July 7.

I’m not opposed to tiered data plans in theory. The wireless industry argues that there’s not enough wireless bandwidth available to accommodate data hogs. If that’s true, people who don’t use heaps of data should be rewarded with lower prices while people who user more data should pay extra.

Except that’s not what Verizon is doing.

Instead, the carrier is charging the same $30 per month for an inferior service. At least AT&T tries to lure people down to tiered data by shaving $5 off the monthly bill, but with the nation’s largest wireless carrier setting a higher rate, I wonder how long it’ll be before AT&T follows.

(MORE: Some AT&T Users Get a Second Chance at Unlimited 3G Data)

For the time being, Sprint is the only major U.S. carrier that still offers unlimited data, although Virgin Mobile’s $25 per month smartphone plan also includes unlimited data, unlimited text messages and 300 voice minutes. T-Mobile’s tiered data plans are technically unlimited, but users are throttled when they exceed their limits.

If you do hang onto an unlimited plan from Verizon, keep in mind that the carrier may throttle you anyway.

MORE: Verizon May Slow Down Those Hogging Unlimited 3G Data Plans