Verizon To Cap Data Plan?: Pros and Cons
The latest rumblings ’round the Net involves Verizon planning to cap their unlimited data plans as early as the end of July 2010. So what’s the deal? Could Verizon’s sudden surge in Android phone users be to blame? More importantly, will this really effect the end user?
The rumors seem to originate from Engadget, but they don’t source a soul. And while Engadget has had some decent details in the past, it’s worth taking this rumor with a healthy dose of skepticism. But essentially it boils down to this: AT&T’s tiered bucket’o’data plans could be coming to Big Red, and you can kiss your unlimited data away.
Upside: Why it Doesn’t Matter
You sir, yes you, with the unlimited data plan. How much data do you actually use? Take a look. You might be using a lot less data than you thought, even though you wanted to be under that umbrella of unlimited data just in case. Let’s say you end up using a mere 200MB to 500MB a month. That’s not much, and you’re paying a lot. Here’s why tiered data plans work: they allow a larger consumer base to be welcomed into the smartphone fold without that smartphone data tax, and it also allows you, the consumer, to save money. Where an unlimited plan might be costing you $40 t6o $50 a month, a mere 500MB plan could cost you as low as $12 to $15 a month.
What’s more, it’ll help curb abuses, so people (like me) don’t tether phones for huge amounts of time, taxing the wireless network and making it slow for everyone else.
Downside: Why it Stinks for the Consumer
Choice is always a nice thing to have, and anytime the choice for unlimited data is eliminated, it’s a sad day. Verizon told me point blank there wasn’t a data cap (5GB to 6GB is typical for smart phones) when I bought my Droid. This elated me. That’s part of the reason I chose Verizon and I chose that phone. But taking away that choice isn’t a great idea — it’s only going to upset heavy users who are not abusing the system, but rely on it for a lot of things.
Alas, 2GB — like AT&T offers — is a small cap, though you can buy additional 1GBs as needed. We don’t know if Verizon will implement this or not.
But here’s how Verizon could make money, and still implement a tiered system. Just charge us. Charge us whatever it is you think you need to maintain a system if I’m using unlimited data. If it’s only $10 a month more to my existing unlimited data, that’s fine by me. That $10 mark will actually help filter out those who want to re-think how much they need to pay for data, and those who know they still need the full service. That’s a lot more fair, and in the end, Verizon is still making cash from those who aren’t using the full potential of their unlimited plan.
Why Verizon May Be Doing This
The Droid X has only be out for about a week, but according to AndroidSpin.com, Verizon has officially noted that the Droid X has 5-times the amount of data usage than any other phone right now. If you figure an average user might max out at 1GB, the Droid X is maxing out at 5GB. You can see that this sort of usage is taxing on the network, and as the Android offerings on Verizon inevitably get more popular, it’s not sustainable.
And on a speculative note, it could be that Verizon will be taxing this only the 3G plans, since Verizon is planning on launching their 4G LTE network sometime around the end of 2010. If the LTE network proves faster, better and stronger (i.e. bigger ‘pipe’ ) they might be able to offer phones and plans accordingly, pushing heavy users to 4G and light users to 3G. It’s not something anyone has been talking about, but it’s something this blogger thinks is worth thinking about.
Let us know how you feel about tiered data usage, and let us know what you pay for and how you use it!