Verizon’s grandfathered ‘unlimited data’ deals under pressure

May 17, 2012

Verizon's grandfathered 'unlimited data' deals under pressureIf you’re a Verizon customer on an unlimited data plan, it may be time to examine the small print. If comments from the company are correct, it seems that at the very least you’ll lose the deal if you upgrade to a 4G handset.

Verizon dropped unlimited data packages to new customers last year, apparently figuring the rapid increase in data use by mobile users made such deals unviable. However, it followed the “grandfathering” principle by allowing existing customers to continue with their deal.

Right now, Verizon is allowing customers on such deals to keep them in place if they upgrade to a 4G (LTE) handset. That may not be the case for long.

The network is planning to launch a shared data plan for 4G handsets, meaning that multiple handsets in a family or small business will have a combined limit. Speaking at a conference, Verizon’s financial chief Fran Shammo said 3G customers who upgrade to 4G in the future will be forced to switch to a shared data plan and give up their unlimited deal.

Following media response to that comment, Verizon has issued an admirably vague and non-committal “clarification” that simply confirms shared data plans will launch later this year, and doesn’t address existing customer plans at all.

That still leaves uncertainty for people on unlimited deals on either 3G or 4G right now. It seems unlikely that Verizon will simply pull the plug on unlimited 3G deals: even if it was legally justified in doing so, the combination of bad publicity and potential court battles with obstinate customers probably isn’t worthwhile. Instead it will more likely simply bide its time and wait for those customers to eventually upgrade to the fast speed and thus give up the unlimited deal.

The real area of mystery is customers who’ve already upgraded to 4G and were allowed to carry over an unlimited deal. It seems highly unlikely the company will be happy to let them keep such deals indefinitely, but taking care of that could involve anything from simply ditching the deal overnight (arguing that it was simply a temporary bonus), only allowing it to last for the length of the customer’s current contract, or rigorously enforcing “fair use limits” to effectively place a monthly cap.

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One Response to “Verizon’s grandfathered ‘unlimited data’ deals under pressure”

  1. Joey:

    As soon as my contract is up with AT&T, I am going to Sprint. Verizon was a company that I was considering before they started messing with their fees and data plans. Honestly, it’s not even worth having a smartphone anymore. I’ve never had bad service with T-Mobile… Definitely looking at my options when my contract goes away.

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