The short of it is this: Verizon doesn’t like having unlimited users on its LTE network. To solve this problem, it will no longer allow 3G customers with “grandfathered” unlimited plans to stay unlimited when purchasing a 4G LTE device. Of course, 4G LTE is really your only option at Verizon these days, so this effectively does away with grandfathered $30 unlimited plans, except for those who have already switched to 4G LTE and those who refuse to buy a new phone.
The change was revealed by Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo at the 40th J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference and is set to take place by mid-summer. Fran also stated that “a lot of our 3G base is on unlimited,” which can’t be good for the bottom line as users become evermore data-hungry. While this is obviously a money-driven move, it’s also a ploy to push Verizon’s new data share plans. “When they migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share.”
Verizon has yet to announce pricing for its data share plans, but we do know that it will be a per-account data monitoring system, instead of per-device, and that it will launch by mid-summer.
So far we don’t have confirmation one way or another as to whether Verizon will attempt some trickery on current 4G LTE customers, but my guess is that current customers will be safe. Possibly throttled, but safe nonetheless. If nothing else, Verizon is obligated to give you unlimited data for the course of your contract.
I don’t know about you, but I am seriously considering buying a cheap 4G LTE phone and getting my account upgraded before the changes take place, if only to buy myself two more years of unlimited. If you have a grandfathered plan and have been waiting to upgrade, may I suggest you reconsider? Pricing for the tiered plans might not be so bad—but it won’t beat what you have right now.