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Verizon is trying to stamp out unlimited data customers

If you have an unlimited data plan for your phone through Verizon, you should know that Verizon is trying to put a stop to that. The company announced a plan aimed at families who have multiple phones and tablets connected to data networks. All the calls and text messages you want for up to 10 devices, but limited use of the data network.

And as of June 28th, customers who want new phones will have to either go to a limited plan or pay the subsidy that Verizon normally pays, meaning a new iPhone could start at $649.

Roger Cheng of CNET says for individual users on unlimited plans now, the new limited plans will cost you more.

Roger Cheng: You'd actually be moving from an $80 plan roughly to a $100 plan at minimum.

Moe: How about if I'm part of a family? I've got kids and teenagers.

Cheng: Yeah, it gets a little bit more complicated. The more people you add to your plan, if you've got like a large family of five, and not all of them are heavy data users, then actually, you'll get decent data savings there.

If you want to stick with unlimited you can keep your same phone forever or switch to Sprint, which still offers unlimited for now.

I asked Karen Smith, a spokesperson for Verizon, why the company was doing this.

Karen Smith: We think that people need to go to a usage-based model for data and pay for the amount of usage that they're using so that everybody is able to access the network.

Moe: So is it a matter of being afraid that you're going to run out of room on the network if people are on unlimited plans?

Smith: No, not at all. In fact, that's one of the reasons that we so aggressively keep expanding our 4G LTE network which is an overlay to our existing 3G network.

I asked if the traffic isn't causing problems, is it that Verizon is trying to make more money to pay for building the new 4G LTE network?

Smith: We made a decision to change our pricing model, and what we've done is we've allowed people to share data among a number of devices regardless of how many people are on the plan, it's a device model. And we're charging on the megabytes of data that they use.

Moe: Why?

Smith: People have changed the usage of how they're using their devices. They're moving to using more data, and to ensure the speed and reliability and the access to the network, people are paying for the amount of data that they use.

***

There's a new Spiderman movie coming out soon. And yes, Spidey does some amazing things.

Well, I'm happy to tell you that reality is starting to catch up with Spiderman. It just doesn't sound quite as cool when real humans climb walls. The sound you hear is from a backpack built at the Utah State University being used to climb the side of a brick building. It operates by vacuum and suction gloves.

The Air Force has given a $100,000 grant to the researchers who built the system. Seems the Air Force was looking for ways to scale a building without grappling hooks. Presumably without using the stairs or elevators inside the building either.

Here's a video. It's nowhere near as sleek as what Spidey does. But it is powerful. And what was it Peter Parker's uncle told him one time? “With great power comes great responsibility.”

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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Kudos, John. Even I broke a sweat for the Verizon shill during the silence after the "Why?" (i agree with the earlier comment - reading this story isn't even close to being as much fun as listening to it). I hope you keep getting these interviews, though, unlike other hosts and reviewers who have to be in bed with the interviewees, lest they lose access.
This price hike is just a symptom of an unsustainable system that expects perpetual growth from companies. I'm sure Verizon's bean counters worked overtime to confirm greater revenue projections before this plan saw the light of day - the "good service" is just lipstick. Of course, Verizon has a fair right to do this, just as I have my right not to switch to Verizon as I'd previously planned.

I do remember the 400 anytime min a month plan with 5.00 a month to start anytime minutes. People will probably move to Wally world's StraightTalk or else Consumer Cellular. I have a pay as you go phone which I chose to let go stagnant and I use for an alarm clock now, it was 20.00 to buy, I downloaded amplified bible as an app when it had minutes and I can still get into the bible app on this phone, use the camera, and the alarms. 50 a month seems like a lot for me. It was 50 month unlimited, or 25.00 a month 750 minutes, and it didn't perform well with mobile email. It is a LG 900 type of tracphone, sort of, you can buy at Family Dollar. But that's 600 a year, 12 x 50, right?

Reading the text of your interview with Karen Smith of Verizon was highly disappointing after hearing the interview this morning--you left out the uhs, you knows, ums, and incredible pause after your simple question, "Why?" That was one of the best bits of radio editing I've ever heard! Would that more news shows left in all the information that speechlessness and verbal tics reveal!

I was all ready to add my two cents, John, but your savvy listeners beat me to the punch. Undoubtedly aware of the sometimes "unpleasant" nature of her job, Karen Smith (her real name-?) seemed ill prepared for the obvious questions being tossed her direction by a much smarter interviewer than she's perhaps been used to hearing. Boo hoo. I suppose had CEO Dan Mead been queried in the same vein, he most likely could have produced "better rehearsed answers", but in the end they could be winnowed down to the same meaning: screw customers. Wouldn't it be simplier to merely state the truth-? I know; simply not in their lexicon. Now all we have to wait for is AT&T's exact same "upgrade" to their pricing tiers. Oh brother-!

I've been waiting for Verizon to reveal their shared data plan, but this clearly is not what I was waiting for. I would love to advise my family members to go and upgrade to the latest iPhone or Android phone, but not at the minimum additional $60/month increase over our current plan. Who the heck has an extra $720 laying around each year to give to their wireless carrier?

What gets me here is not the spokespersons contradictions or the clear squeeze on Unlimited data plan holders (thats me), its the blind eye to the macroeconomic environment and the narrow demographic this Shared Plan targets.

Didn't we just get a report from the Federal Reserve that median income declined 7% since 2007? Do we not see 20 - 30 % increases in gasoline prices each year? Hasn't the middle incomes seen real wage incomes stagnate over the last few years?

Is anyone else questioning the revenue growth strategy here? Wouldn't Verizon make more revenues converting basic phone subscribers to smart phone subscribers? How about growing your subscriber base?

This "Share Everything Plan" looks and smells more and more like the "Netflix Redux Plan". We all know how well that went for Netflix

Personally I plan to keep my $720 this year and take a vacation.

Way to go, John Moe! You asked all the questions I've been wanting to ask including my favorite "WHY?" The long pause was wonderful to hear. I could almost see her massaging her temples whilst mouthing a silent scream. It's obvious they've been making a killing on their data, talk and text plans (and penalty fees) for years. Now they're saying, We can get even more out of these fools! And if they don't like it, well, what are they going to do, give up their iphones, change plans? Ha ha ha... all the way to the bank. They'll make tons in the first year while people are still figuring out just how small a Gb is and how easy it is to go over. I'm sure they'll have some kind of popup message, like "Sorry, you've reached your bandwidth limit. If you want to finish watching this movie, click hear to buy more bandwidth now..."

"We think that people need to go to a usage-based model for data and pay for the amount of usage that they're using so that everybody is able to access the network."

That's an interesting quote, which appears to be a roundabout way of saying, well, nothing much. It would have been equally as pointless just to say, "No reason, we just want to make more money while providing nothing at all in return, and if possible, removing value from the service provided to existing customers for a bonus net gain."

The spokesperson admits later in the quote that network bandwidth wasn't a factor in the decision to change the pricing structure, thereby, robbing me of the chance to give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe they needed to make this change to support their overly taxed infrastructure.

Oh, who am I kidding, I wouldn't have given them the benefit of the doubt anyway.

Mike

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