Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) customers who have managed to hang onto unlimited data plans will not see their speeds throttled even if they use large amounts of data, according to Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo.
"For a customer who signed up for unlimited, they're going to get unlimited," Shammo told CNET. "But we are increasing the price. These customers are consuming a lot of data. But we're not in the habit of throttling customers."
Verizon said earlier this month it 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. Verizon says 99 percent of its customers are not on unlimited data plans, which it stopped offering to new customers in 2011. 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, which could bring total service costs to around $100 per month.
As CNET notes, Verizon has not made it easy for those with grandfathered unlimited data plans to hold onto them and has required unlimited subscribers pay full price for new devices when upgrading.
Other carriers have said they will slow down the speeds of their unlimited data plan customers who use inordinate amounts of data. Sprint (NYSE: S) said last week it will start throttling the speeds of customers on its unlimited smartphone data plans who use more than 23 GB of data in a billing cycle for the remainder of their billing cycle, but only at times and locations where the network is constrained. The practice applies to customers who choose an unlimited data handset plan launched Oct. 16, 2015, or after, or customers who choose to upgrade their handset on or after Oct. 16 and remain on an existing unlimited data plan.
In September, AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) quietly increased the amount of data customers on its legacy unlimited data plans can burn through before they see their speeds throttled. Previously, the upper limit was 5 GB but the carrier increased the threshold to 22 GB.
In June, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) updated its disclosures about when customers on unlimited plans might see slower speeds. "Unlimited 4G LTE customers who use more than 21 GB of data in a bill cycle will have their data usage de-prioritized compared to other customers for that bill cycle at locations and times when competing network demands occur, resulting in relatively slower speeds," T-Mobile said.
Shammo was clear that Verizon won't take similar steps, CNET reported. However, Verizon has not always taken that position. In June, Verizon quietly stopped throttling the data speeds of customers who were on legacy unlimited data plans on 3G devices and who crossed into the top 5 percent of data users when they were on high-traffic cell sites. Verizon had that policy in place since September 2011. Verizon dropped plans in October 2014 to expand that policy to unlimited customers on its LTE network after pressure from the FCC.
- see this CNET article
Sprint to start throttling unlimited plan customers if they use more than 23 GB of data in a month
Verizon to hike prices for grandfathered unlimited data plan users by $20/month
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
AT&T now lets customers with unlimited data plans use 22 GB before throttling them
T-Mobile: Throttling policy for unlimited customers who hit 21 GB is OK under net neutrality