Should Verizon charge for data overages with tiered data plans?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
For the nation’s largest carriers, offering unlimited data was never a long-term consideration. Verizon’s plans to offer tiered data plans sometime in the future haven’t necessarily been a secret, but up until recently it hasn’t been “confirmed” from Verizon as to when, exactly, the axe would come down on those unlimited plans currently offered. Now that we know that the end is this summer, we can also apparently expect to see some overage charges making their way to customers when the new, tiered data plans launch. But, is anyone really surprised that Verizon’s choosing this path, instead of something a bit different?
For most people, having unlimited data is something that many just expect at this point. That is, unless you’ve got yourself a tablet and that’s where you do most of your Internet escapades. But, unlimited data accessible through your smartphone is something that people need, or think they need, anyway. With our heavy application usage, especially when it comes to media streaming apps, it’s easy for someone to start consuming plenty of megabytes in their day-to-day usage. They use those unlimited plans, knowing they won’t get charged for the data they consume per day. But, those good old’ times are coming to an end, and sooner than some expected for Big Red’s network.
When Verizon kicks in those tiered data plans, they don’t want people to go crazy with their smartphones anymore. They need to be more measured, so that way the network doesn’t take such a big hit every day. Or whatever other reason(s) that Verizon has for turning on tiered data plans. In any event, most people would think that Verizon would use the standard tools to stop people from going over their data allowances, such as throttling their data consumption. Making sure that their data speeds are measured, and therefore not as fun to use, would make folks stop using it as much. Or, that’s the belief, anyway.
Another method would be to cap them, and stop them from using their data connection altogether. So someone pays for 5GB per month, but if they go above that, their data connection is severed for the remainder of their monthly bill. It may seem rough, but it’s one way to make sure that people don’t go over their allowance, and keeps them from accruing a huge bill.
That’s definitely not going to be the case. I think Verizon’s CFO Fran Shammo said it pretty clearly: “The user that wants to use a lot [of data] will pay for it.” In fact, it doesn’t get much clearer than that. Verizon has absolutely no qualms about making you pay for the data you use, especially if you go over your allowance. And that’s fine, for the most part. Verizon’s a company that has to make money to survive, and charging their subscribers is the way they make money. So, charging for overages is just another way for them to make money. But, let’s face it; it’s not the best route when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Given the options, I would much prefer to have my data throttled, or even capped, as opposed to having to face overage charges if I do go over my monthly allowance. Yes, it’s up to the customer to make sure that they are aware of their data consumption, and to make sure that they stay well in the bounds of their plans outline, but sometimes things happen. And, considering there’s no word on how much Verizon is going to charge for those overages, it’s anyone’s guess how much money a customer can be charged if they do go over. It will definitely be interesting this summer when Verizon pulls the curtain off of these new plans, and unveils them to new customers looking to sign up for a new contract with Big Red.
What do you think of Verizon’s latest move? Should the wireless carrier reconsider their idea of overage charges in favor of capping or throttling users? Or do you think this is the right move for Verizon? Let me know in the comments what you think.