Bad News for 'Unlimited Data' Mobile Users
Mobile users on "unlimited" data plans got a double dose of bad news this week. Verizon will be kicking the heaviest data users off the plan, while AT&T's remaining unlimited users face a price hike.
Cellphone service providers have largely moved away from offering truly unlimited data plans over the past few years. That's partly because of a big increase in how much data mobile customers use, particularly as faster speeds made streaming video more practical.
While new unlimited deals are almost non-existent, most providers have continued to allow people to keep existing unlimited contracts under a system known as grandfathering. However, they've used a variety of tactics to deter people from keeping such plans.
Some Customers Face Slower Speeds
These have included blocking tethering (in which users share the mobile data from a phone or tablet with another device such as a computer) and significantly slowing down speeds for people who use a lot of data. The latter move has proven controversial with critics saying that even if it meets the letter of the law, it doesn't really meet the spirit of an unlimited plan.
Now Verizon says it will ban customers from keeping an unlimited plan if they use more than 200 GB a month. They'll have until February 16 to pick a new plan - which will have a monthly limit - or face being dropped as a customer. The highest amount of data available to customers affected by this will be 100GB a month, which will cost a whopping $450 a month. (Source: droid-life.com)
AT&T Customers to Pay $5 More
How the move plays legally is open to debate. There's definitely a case that Verizon is no longer providing the "unlimited" data that these customers have paid for. However, there's also an argument that its obligation only applies month-by-month and that it's perfectly entitled to cancel a plan.
Meanwhile AT&T's "legacy unlimited data plan" will go up from $35 to $40 from March. That follows on from a $5 hike last February. The company does still offer unlimited plans to new customers, but only if they also subscribe to DirectTV cable, which is owned by AT&T. (Source: arstechnica.com)
What's Your Opinion?
Should carriers who offer "unlimited" plans be allowed to place any limit on use? If so, what's a reasonable amount of data each month? How long should companies be expected to continue offering a deal to "grandfathered" customers?
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