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Verizon joins the “no unlimited data” crowd

Unlimited data plans are, in my opinion, critical to the continued development of smartphone applications and utilities. Take a look at Android, for example. All of our data is stored online. We sync with Google hundreds of times a day, and while that doesn’t consume much data, everything else we do uses a little bit more. It all adds up to a lot depending on who you are. In it’s current form, plans like the new AT&T data plans are counter-productive. 2GB of data every month is, frankly, insulting. That being said, Reuters is reporting today that Verizon is looking to a tiered data structure, without an unlimited tier at the top.

Average data consumption increased to 298 MB a month in the first quarter of this year, from about 90 MB a month for the same period last year. That’s a gain of approximately 230 percent in a year, according to research by Nielsen Mobile.

Obviously an increase like this means that in order to accomodate that traffic, infrastructure and support costs would have to increase as well. The issue from a carrier perspective is that this infrastructure is apparently only to handle the six percent of the smartphone market that consume half of all data used. The “average” smartphone user does not consume more than 2GB a month, and it is argued that a tiered data plan would actually benefit many of those users with lowered cost. Where does that leave that six percent? Out in the cold, apparently. Verizon (the only carrier neglecting to participate in the Big Android Barbecue) has already announced that with the deployment of a tiered data plan, an unlimited option would not be available.

Obviously this does not make many people happy, and I suspect this is one of the many reasons a Verizon iPhone is not on the table anymore. Plain and simple, no matter what smartphone you use, data is important. Adding to you daily, or hourly in my case, tasks would be to see how much data you have consumed. The process would limit smartphone application developers, and likely push them away from making server-side entertainment delivery platforms, like Netflix and Hulu.

Since this is already deployed on AT&T, and while there is no active date or price points available, speculation is rampant that it is only a matter of time before the other carriers adopt a similar standing. Personally, I hope this is not true. As a T-Mobile customer, I much more appreciate their data plan, where the speed decreases incrementally based on individual usage. This plan works well for me personally, and I have yet to have any problems. I also have used more than 2GB of 3G data in a single day, so obviously a tiered data plan would limit me significantly.

It seems like bad news for consumers and developers alike. How do you feel?

13 Comments

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  1. I disagree, in the very near future data phones with hot spot services will be likely to replace home Internet connections as the default way to access and share the Internet. The amount of data that will be used wirelessly is going to increase exponentially IF data plans can be sold at a reasonable price (which is not happening even now), or they are truly unlimited. If not, I believe innovation will be stifled at the cost of providing profits to the big wireless carriers.

  2. It’s a competitive products issue, not a data plan issue there at all. VzW has put alot of money into android, and I also doubt apple is feeling very good about VzW after all that VzW has done to smear the iPhone (or as I’d say…. just criticism) in promotion of android. This is a deal that only exists in people who can’t think realistically. If this EVER happens, I’ll be extremely shocked and surprised and left wondering “why would they pull a boneheaded move like that?” That is, unless they were prepared to undermine AT&T in some other way with some sort of competitive advantage in terms of cost of cellphone plans.

  3. I do not see how this is related to Verizon not getting the iPhone. From a data plan standpoint, this would put them closer to what the iPhone currently has with AT&T. If anything this would favor the iPhone on Verizon.

  4. If they keep the tethering accounts seperate from one’s normal data plan and allow the tethering with a data cap of around 5GB a month, that would keep folks from going over another large data cap on the regular data plan. IMO, if they cap data at 5GB a month, that would keep everyone covered. It’s nice to say that we have to have unlimited data, but as we all know, there is no such thing as actual unlimited. That merely meant that at that time, Verizon could afford to charge you one flat rate per month no matter how much data you used because the average useage and EVERYONE paying into it who had data was still low and thus they could still afford things. Much like how group risk insurance works. However, when EVERYONE’s risk goes up, so does cost for everyone. So, instead of increasing data plan costs, Verizon will introduce data caps.

    I doubt this will actually stifle development. Most of us have regular access to broadband wi-fi in the situations where we’d be doing alot of heavy media stuff on the phone (or can create a wireless access point using something like a laptop connected to ethernet to create an ad hoc net connection for the phone), as it is faster and keeps on off of the data network with the cap.

    Verizon simply can’t afford to keep unlimited data if they are going to be having this kind of permanent increase in network traffic…. not without raising data plan rates, and I think that’d be significantly less popular overall.

    So, while I don’t have to like it, I’ll endure it as the cost of doing business. TANSTAAFL and all that. SOMEONE has to pony up…. and it will always be passed down the consumer. Question is whether you want to see a global increase in data plan cost to support new infrastructure to support greater bandwidth (and with the law of diminishing returns, this might cost WAY more than folks want it to), OR whether you just want to make sure you don’t use too much cellular broadband data. Take your pick. Cellphone service ain’t a charity or something someone is entitled to, after all. These folks have to make money and deliver growth and profit to stockholders (which includes you in some way, most likely).

  5. I agree with this guy. It’s all about money. They can increase speeds and available bandwidth, and they are coming out with the whole new 4G, LTE, or whatever other versions of it, so just make those able to accommodate the increased usage. I would even agree to go from 30$/mo to say 40-50$/mo for unlimited, but to remove it completely is just ridiculous.

  6. @evo2droid of course it would work. The trick is a device that could change the frequency of wifi to ham radio and ham radio back to wifi; like a modem for ham radio. It shouldn’t be incredibly complicated, but I’m no electrical engineer.

  7. @filev that’s crazy! Would the ham radio transmitted wifi work? Im smelling something delicious brewing. Cuz u know u could get people on board. Just network

  8. I’m still using an iphone 3gs on att and I have def gone over 6GB in a month. I’m still grandfathered in the old unlimited plan so it doesn’t cost any extra. That’s just streaming audio for the most part; over 10 hours a day usually.

    If I don’t have unlimited data then I’m not going to have a smart phone. It’s pretty crappy that data has become such a commodity and that companies are being so stingy with it.

    FCC is supposed to make a decision on using the old (non digital) TV signal for broadcasting highspeed; maybe if they do then we could use that signal for phones too and just pay one monthly fee for unlimited data one all of our devices… or maybe we can catch up with korea and just have free internet for everyone.

    I mean the net seems to be becoming more and more expected for people to have access too. You call the city they say “oh, pay your bill online”, you call the state and they say “you can register for that online”, you call the IRS and they say “download our online tax form”. It seems to me that if people are expected cooperate with the progress of society then we should have free and unlimited access to the internet. At a top level it’s not THAT hard to increase the overall bandwidth….

    This keeps up I say we convert our phones to use wifi over a ham radio signal, and feed the signal with our own home internets. We just need 1 person about every 100 miles, wouldn’t be that crazy.

  9. No it isn’t because people are over using data. That’s like saying YOU drive too much that’s why fuel prices have sky rocketed. That’s just a pointless 5 year old style thinking error. The actual reason is the booming sales in data plan arena and CEO. and share holders, wealthy people that control us not so wealthy consumers, are seeing. $ $$$$$$ that’s all this is. Its the greed system. More ways to charge rediculous overages and syphon more money per subscriber. THIS IS THE REASON OUR ECONOMY HAS GONE TO SHIT! GREED!
    Vzn att evil I doubt Tmo and sprint go this direction hell. Sprint has 69.99 everything unlimited ..(&yes I do realize Tmo is soft capped at 5gigs. But that’s not the same type of purgatory you’re getting into when you over draw the other two evil companies. U know apples b#$*h and bings whore. 🙂 im just tired of seeing the avg consumer spend such outrageous amounts of money on basic services all across the board.

  10. i have actually only tethered my phone three times since the feature came out, and I do not torrent. Sorry to burst your pointless bubble!

  11. More then 2GB of data in a day???? Guess what, you’re the reason carriers are taking away unlimited data plans. I use my phone everyday and I do not limit myself in anything: I stream audio/video, emails, browser, occasionally downloading a file or 10 but I’ve never went over 4Gb in a single month. You must be tethering your phone all day long. Guess what… there’s a reason this is called mobile internet…. because you’re supposed to use it on your mobile device, not torrenting on it all day long!

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