Verizon Clarifies Discontinuation of Grandfathered Unlimited Data: Applies to New Subsidized Devices

Verizon yesterday made headlines for comments from Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo revealing that the carrier is planning to discontinue its grandfathered unlimited data plans when the carrier rolls out new shared data plans this summer. Verizon dropped those unlimited data plans within months of introducing the iPhone early last year, but customers who had previously been on the unlimited plans have been allowed to keep them, even through handset upgrades.

verizon iphone cook
Tim Cook and Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead introduce the Verizon iPhone in January 2011

Verizon issued a clarification to The New York Times today, noting that the loss of grandfathered unlimited plans will be limited to those customers purchasing new subsidized devices for use on the carrier. Users who do not upgrade their devices or who choose to upgrade at unsubsidized prices will be able to keep their unlimited data plans. Still, the change would appear to be set to affect the majority of Verizon's current unlimited data customers, as most customers are interested in regular handset upgrades at subsidized prices.

- Customers will not be automatically moved to new shared data plans. If a 3G or 4G smartphone customer is on an unlimited plan now and they do not want to change their plan, they will not have to do so.

- When we introduce our new shared data plans, Unlimited Data will no longer be available to customers when purchasing handsets at discounted pricing.

- Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan will be able to keep that plan.

- The same pricing and policies will be applied to all 3G and 4GLTE smartphones.

Sprint remains the only major U.S. carrier to offer unlimited data for iPhone users, and the carrier has indicated that it will continue to do so for the next-generation device, even if it supports 4G LTE networks that could lead to consumers using more data capacity.

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Top Rated Comments

reden Avatar
159 months ago
Nice clarification. "Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan will be able to keep that plan." Making it sound like it's a gift from them to you.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
imprezu Avatar
159 months ago
Prices of used 4g smartphones are going to skyrocket.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
doctorossi Avatar
159 months ago
So basically your a sucker if you go for their subsidized phones and signing up for a 2 year contract.

You're a sucker if you pay for an unsubsidized phone- you pay the same rate for your plan whether your phone was subsidized or not.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
doctorossi Avatar
159 months ago
I don't understand the contention that buying at the unsubsidized rate is a workable solution here. If you buy the phone unsubsidized, you still have to pay the same plan rates that pay the carrier back (and then some) for the subsidy, so... a ~$500 premium just to keep your unlimited plan? How does that constitute the best deal for even the top data users?

Is there something wrong with my math?
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
realmike15 Avatar
159 months ago
As soon as AT&T does this... hello Sprint!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macboy Pro Avatar
159 months ago


I think the lesson here is that companies should never advertise anything as unlimited. These agreements almost always have some kind of "excessive usage" clause, and it's just not possible for every customer to take full advantage of it when the backend resources are finite.
That is exactly what The AT&T CEO said last week and folks ripped him for it. AT&T made a mistake in the initial unlimited offering. The did not anticipate the iPhone success and the bandwidth needed. A fully understandable and honest statement from the CEO.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)