Verizon to hike prices for grandfathered unlimited data plan users by $20/month

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) will increase the price of its unlimited data plans by $20 per month for the customers who still have grandfathered unlimited plans starting in November. The price increase, which will affect a tiny percentage of Verizon customers, could be designed to get subscribers to switch to newer usage-based shared data plans, which might actually be cheaper in some cases, depending on the customer's usage.  

Customers with legacy Verizon unlimited data plans will see the increase in their first monthly bill after Nov. 15. The monthly cost of grandfathered unlimited data plans will now increase to $50 per month, on top of what customers are paying for voice and texting. Verizon stopped offering unlimited data plans to new customers in 2011, and all of its new plans offer unlimited voice and texting.

Verizon said it will not increase the price on any line with an unlimited data plan that is currently in a two-year contract until the customer completes that contract or enters into a new contract. This increase also does not affect government or corporate accounts that have unlimited data.

"We continuously evaluate the price of our plans and service, so we're increasing the price of unlimited data plans by $20 per line per month for customers no longer under contract with Verizon Wireless," Verizon spokeswoman Kelly Crummy told FierceWireless. "At the same time, we're also offering customers currently on our unlimited data plan the added benefit of purchasing a new phone using our monthly device payment plan, instead of paying full price up-front for the device. This option is available to all unlimited data plan users once their current contract period ends.

Verizon said 99 percent of its customers are not on unlimited data plans, and for those who are, many could save money by switching to a new "Verizon Plan," based on their data usage. Verizon introduced new shared data plans in August. Verizon's 1 GB plan is now $30 per month, its 3 GB plan is $45, its 6 GB plan is $60 and its $12 GB plan is $80. Under those plans, every smartphone line costs $20 per month to add to the plan.

A Verizon spokesman told CNET that some customers could actually end up saving money by switching to a usage-based plan, and that not all unlimited data users consume enough data each month to justify the expense. "There are options out there that don't involve unlimited that may be a better fit for you," he said, declining to say how much data unlimited data plan customers use on average. 

The Verizon price increase comes shortly after Sprint (NYSE: S) said it will increase the cost of its unlimited plan -- which offers unlimited calling, texting and data -- by $10 per month starting Oct. 16. The carrier currently charges $60 per month for unlimited service, and that price will increase to $70 per month in roughly two weeks. Importantly, the carrier pointed out that price is still cheaper than what T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) charges for unlimited service ($80 per month). Sprint also said its existing $60 unlimited customers will not be subject to the increase. Like Verizon, AT&T (NYSE: T) also does not offer unlimited data plans to new customers.

For more:
- see this CNET article
- see this The Verge article 

Related articles:
U.S. Cellular slashes prices on its shared data plans, undercutting Verizon and AT&T
AT&T shakes up Mobile Share Value plan pricing, increases $100/10 GB plan to 15 GB
Verizon cuts prices on shared data plans and smartphone access charges
Sprint to raise price of unlimited data plan from $60/month to $70/month starting Oct. 16
Verizon quietly ditched policy to throttle heaviest 3G users with legacy unlimited data plans

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