Monday, June 27, 2011

RIP Unlimited Data

Rest in Peace, Unlimited Data

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the end of the unlimited data era. Last week, Verizon Wireless joined AT&T by announcing its new “tiered” data plan packages.*

News of Verizon’s change comes as no surprise. Earlier this year, tech bloggers and wireless industry experts predicted the carrier would “re-evaluate” its unlimited data plan in the wake of AT&T’s 2010 re-structured data plan.

The new data plans are a result of unprecedented growth in the smartphone business. Currently, 142.8 million (or one out of in every two) Americans own a smartphone. Studies estimate that consumer use outweighs business use, but for many of us at Privus, smartphones serve a double duty. Access to the Internet anytime and anywhere is a valuable tool, one that many might have not considered because of unlimited data plans. Verizon agrees. South Area Vice President of Marketing and Sales Lee Williams sent the following to Verizon Wireless employees:

“Our legacy data pricing structure was designed 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.”

Carriers want to capitalize on the demand for additional data. With three major smartphones (iOS, BlackBerry and Android) dominating the market, change was inevitable. The new data plans look like they will be based on usage level, which seems to be a response to the money-losing proposition of “giving away” bandwidth for free.

Current subscribers to Verizon Wireless need not worry. The carrier has un-officially said it will allow current smartphone users to keep their unlimited packages, as to whether or not that will last until the end of your contract or the end of the year, nobody knows.

In the meantime, Verizon’s changes are set to take place on July 7. If you want unlimited, go now!

*Read the rest of Verizon’s internal memo here.

**This is the second post in the two-part series

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