Unlimited data on Verizon is dead. The death rattle just wheezed out during Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo's dream-killing presentation at the JP Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference. Everyone with a grandfathered unlimited data plan will be forced to switch to a tiered plan when they upgrade to LTE. It's absurd, warrantless, and sadly, typically, aggressively anti-consumer.
Killing unlimited—especially grandfathered plans—was always going to piss off, well, everyone, but Verizon thinks it has a good reason. "Everyone will be on data share," Shammo said. All customers will be forced onto Verizon's new shared data plans once their upgrade cycle comes around, which are in theory easier to manage for multi-device families. Except that doesn't really pass the smell test.
Here's the thing: shared plans aren't evil. They actually make some sense with the amount of wireless devices we carry around at this point. Phones, tablets, MiFis, even 3G laptops are getting pretty good. And a shared, unified data plan would keep you from having to pay for a MiFi, an iPad, and a smartphone, all separately. But if you only have one device, and you are just fine, thank you, with the plan that you have, there is no sense to forcing you off of your plan and squeezing you into one that accommodates an iPad you don't own.
Verizon's unlimited data hasn't been available since last summer. But for those of us who snuck in under the cutoff, there was a sense of safety. AT&T killed its unlimited plans back in the middle of 2010, and there had been no indication that there would be a retroactive culling of them going forward. As long as you were careful with your plan, you were free to keep it.
Verizon's policy had been fairly benevolent until now, at least outwardly. 3G unlimited users were allowed to keep their unlimited plans when they moved to LTE, with no added charge. There had been signs that Verizon had been getting wary of unlimited sticking around, with its push to make 3G Facetime only available to non-unlimited customers.
Admittedly, most people who have unlimited plans don't actually need unlimited data, or anything close to it. But that's beyond the point. Verizon sold a product, and through no fault of its customers—most of whom aren't even abusing it—it is now calling takebacks.
We've contacted Verizon, and it has refused to comment on whether this is actually definitely positively happening, but given the certainty behind Shammo's presentation, don't hold your breath. [Verizon via FierceWireless, MobileBurn via Engadget]