Verizon has decided the time for unlimited data plans has to come to an end. According to CFO Fran Shammo, who spoke at an investors’ conference today, if you already have an unlimited plan and want to move to 4G then you can expect to lose that plan in favor of a new one. The story isn’t all bad, to be fair: Verizon is planning to create a shared data rate which will cover all the devices on the account (I think that’s good? isn’t it?), and then there’s the speed boost of 4G connectivity. Nevertheless, it may come as a bit of cold water in the face to those who resent having to choose between the plan they want and the connection they want. Here’s a bit from TechCrunch about it:
The concept of shared data plans would is wonderful for families and other multi-line accounts, but it doesn’t do any favors for the individual customers who don’t need more than one device. The status of existing customers who have had their unlimited data plans grandfathered over to their new 4G devices is also unclear — Shammo makes it sound like only customers who upgrade after the change takes place will have to pick a new data plan (for better or worse), and with any luck they’ll leave the lucky souls who have already locked their old data plans alone for now.
The whole “unlimited data” thing has always been a difficult concept for carriers anyhow. It seems more like an idea that they collectively came up with when mobile data use began to proliferate and then, over time, they realized it wasn’t the best way to maximize profits. The result, as we have all seen, is stifled plans which have a cap of some kind (and yet the cap is never disclosed to the user) and, of course, the most expensive mobile charges on the planet. If users who put a greater strain on the carrier’s resources are asked to pay more than those who don’t, that seems fair, but once you’ve sold something called an “unlimited” account and accepted the payment, it’s not really ethical to try negotiating after the fact because you didn’t like the terms. After all, it’s not like the customer gets that option.