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Verizon Nixes Unlimited Data Plans

Verizon smartphone owners may need to be more cautious about how much they download and stream, as the carrier follows AT&T in phasing out its unlimited data plan.


Starting July 7, consumers currently paying $30 for unlimited data must choose among three new options: a two gigabyte plan for $30, five gigabytes for $50, or 10 gigabytes for $80. Use more than your new plan allows, and you’ll pay an extra $10 per gigabyte.

A Verizon spokeswoman declined to comment on the change, but analysts say it’s no surprise. Data usage increased 90% over the past year, according to a recent Nielsen report, and some of the heaviest users doubled their consumption. Tiered structures let carriers increase profit as consumers use more data, as well as fund network expansions to support that data use, says Mark Beccue, an analyst with ABI Research.

This time last year, AT&T became the first major carrier to do away with unlimited data plans, swapping its $30 unlimited offering for a choice of either a 200 megabyte plan for $15 or a two gigabyte one for $25. By their estimates at the time, 65% of consumers could safely go with the cheaper $15 plan.

Most consumers can still comfortably settle in the cheapest plan their carrier offers — at least for now, says Alex Goldfayn, a consumer electronics expert who hosts the nationally syndicated radio show “The Technology Tailor Minute.” A consumer who uses his phone for instant messaging, email and web browsing isn’t likely to hit the two-gigabyte cap for the cheapest plan.

But those interested in streaming video or music, which plays the content over a web connection, may have cause for concern, says Goldfayn. Six hours of Netflix streaming is enough to exceed a 2GB plan. (The better option: use a computer to download videos or music, and then transfer them to your phone. Playing content already on your phone doesn’t use data.)

As carriers shift away from unlimited, a consumer’s best recourse is to monitor data usage through their account online, Beccue says. Carriers typically let you see how much data you’ve used in recent months; information that can help you pick the best plan going forward. You can also check usage as the month progresses, and change your plan without penalty to avoid overage charges.

Consumers should also be cautious about how and when they use their phone’s web connection, says Andrew Eisner, the director of content for electronics review site Retrevo.com. Save big file transfers — like downloading a movie or sending photos — for your home computer, and be wary of streaming unless you’re using a free WiFi connection instead of the pay-for cellular network.


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    • By WebOsPublisher

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      Let the cat out of the bank. Icon, Pixel Art, Buddy Icons, Forum Avatars
      Let the cat out of the bank.-+You need to be logged in to rate pixel art.VIEW ARTISTFAVE ITSHARE ITUSE FOR AVATAREDIT N/APixel Art Details-+Title: Let the cat out of the bank.Pixel Artist: dpixel (Level 9 Vice President :: 12057 points)Posted: 9/22/2009 5:39:14 PMPalette: 12 colorsStatistics: 10 comments :: 2 favorites :: 0 avatars Why are all these cats hanging around the bank?
      For the Mixed Metaphors Challenge
      Updated. Thanks Manupix!Weekly Challenge: Mixed Metaphors
      What do you think?If you would like to comment you will need to be logged in. Register now. It only takes a moment and it’s free! Dino502Run (Level 6 Serial Killer) at 1/31/2010 7:05:09 PMthat’s a lot of cats KrypToniTe (Level 5 Soldier) at 10/21/2009 11:18:17 AMFunny and pleasure to eye. I like this. sharprm (Level 4 Deputy) at 10/9/2009 3:15:39 AMiso animals are a pain and i think you pulled them off well (maybe the cat lying down out and also back legs of sitting down one are out though). the botom left one looks best. two on right their heads look a little warped. But the guy’s arm really lets you down! you should’ve looked up a ref.
      bank sign on door doesn’t follow perspective.
      did you look up john k stuff? Clickety (Level 1 Depressed) at 9/26/2009 3:35:38 AMNice Iso pic, love the cats! :3 DawnBringer (Level 10 Maniac) at 9/24/2009 4:13:58 PMCool with isometrics. Another suggestion: Front side brickwalls usally don’t "reach" the ground…how about replacing the bottom three brick-rows with grey bricks or a solid cement-like structure?
      Manupix (Level 11 CEO) at 9/23/2009 1:21:02 PMMute the wall color: yes.
      Darken the sidewalk: no.
      They just don’t work?: something like that.
      They look like the light comes from the viewers back, which is not the nicest of choices. They are too close to the cats, and almost hang in air. They would look better if they were longer, more detached from the cats, and flat on the ground. But in fact there is not really a strong idea of light in this piece, so shadows are probably not needed. dpixel (Level 9 Vice President) at 9/23/2009 5:59:23 AMThanks for the comments!
      @Manupix: I’m assuming you meant mute the wall colors and maybe darken the sidewalk? I’d make some changes now, but I’m on a dark monitor so I can’t see how it would really look. And what do you mean about the shadows? Not dark enough? They just don’t work? And 5 days I know, but I won’t have that much time the rest of this week. Maybe a late night…lol
      Manupix (Level 11 CEO) at 9/23/2009 1:10:42 AMNice and funny, but I stick to my forum comments, mostly about colors.
      Also, the cast cats (!) shadows are not so great.
      Almost 5 days left! ;-D Sterner Regnix (Level 6 Serial Killer) at 9/22/2009 10:41:32 PM…is it the CatWest bank? (sorry)
      Iso + cats = awesome Moskau (Level 2 Quiet One) at 9/22/2009 8:17:45 PMI love it! Very cute.
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    • I’ve been trying to go back to my old 3g unlimited contract with Verizon. They say no can do!
      So I’m paying $600 for a 4g phone and mifi card this month! Merry Freakin Christmas Indeed!

    • Tmobile wont have unlimited that long either and all that will be left will be sprint. ATT bought out tmobile. its all about the money with these companies. you use it more so they charge more and soon they will probably get rid of feature phones as well

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.