Data usage is on a very rapid rise. Carriers are doing all they can to keep tabs on all of the sent and received bits to both ensure everyone is (mostly) happy and that their network doesn't crumble through the never-ending pressure. The interesting yet unsurprising bit, though, is that despite a radical change in the way we use our phones (read: data now takes precedence over voice calling and text messaging for a large number of users), the structure of plans has not changed. Calling plans are still the primary basis of the wireless bill, while messaging and data plans are still add-ons. Calling and messaging plans have also maintained the same pricing scale, across the board, while data pricing gradually increases at different paces between providers.

Recently, we have also witnessed the transition from unlimited to capped data plans. And those unfriendly overage fees that used to only be associated with calling and texting plans can now become a part of your data consumption, if you aren't careful.

With both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, when you go over your allotment, you are charged $10 per gigabyte until the end of the billing cycle. The difference between overages with data consumption as opposed to text messages and calling minutes is how difficult it is for each end user to monitor or "plan" their usage. With text messages and minutes, you have a definite, finite number that never changes – one minute or one text is one knocked off the allotment each use. With data consumption, however, things become a little more cloudy. No two Web pages pull the same amount of data, every song streamed is a different size and so on and so forth.

You can imagine that quite a few people are more-than-irate when the monthly bill comes and surprises them with steep overage charges they never expected to pay.

A report coming from Reuters from last Thursday reveals that Verizon Wireless is looking into more efficient ways for customers to use their network, which could help avert unsightly overages. The term mentioned is "drip-casting," which would allow users who plan ahead to use data without getting charged. For example, instead of just spontaneously streaming a movie on Netflix and getting charged for however many bits you consume (I've used up to a half-gigabyte watching a 45-minute show), you could order a video on your mobile device a day or so before you plan to watch it and you would not be billed for the download.

Why, exactly? Sinead Carew of Reuters explains, "The service provider would then gradually send the video to the consumer in a way that does not put too much strain on the network. This would involve sending the data in off-peak times or choosing network routes with little traffic." Shadman Zafar, a technology executive at Verizon Wireless, expects to see such offerings in the near future, stating, "All these technologies are real and ready to go." Zafar also stated that we will see "a lot of innovation" this year.

This is all good and well. But drip-casting effectively kills the "on demand" way we've grown used to with the Web, and it will ultimately lead to more confusion in average consumers. People are using more and more data on average. Tiered data plans, alone, are not going to cut it, and drip-casting is not going to work for most people. I, for one, never know when I will want to watch something on my phone beforehand; thus, this deal would not affect or appeal to me at all.

What data users need are perks or promotional deals, much like we've been seeing with calling plans over the years.

For instance, something similar to free data on nights and weekends. As good as free nights and weekends may sound, though, it may not be viable on the carrier's part. I understand that. Back in the day, I used to wait until after 9 PM to make any calls to non-Verizon customers. If a similar promotion was implemented, the network would bottleneck every night around the same time. However, what they could do is offer free data in "off-peak hours."

Another possibility is rollover bytes. I know plenty of people who never even come close to their cap on a given month. But there are those cases where you could always use more data in a pinch. I was always a fan of rollover minutes – in my six months with AT&T on a 2,000 minute plan, I think I made three or four phone calls total. Needless to say, I had no worries of going over. A similar promotion for tiered data users would be incredible for consumers, at virtually no loss to the carrier. It does little for those who come close to their cap each month while benefiting those who are light on their usage.

While the two examples I've already given are highly unlikely, an even more unlikely option would be partnerships between wireless carriers and other content providers. For example, say, Netflix came to an agreement with Verizon in that no streamed TV shows or movies would be billed. It could also be broken down to where TV shows aren't billed but movies are (unless the user utilized drip-casting). That, or you could pay a few more dollars per month with Netflix for "unlimited mobile access" with your wireless provider.

Again, promotions like these are very unlikely, but great food for thought. There is little being done – that we've seen, at least – in this space that could help carriers compromise with customers. Data is on high demand right now, and it's only going up from here. With carriers weighing users down with outrageous data pricing and absurdly low caps, something has to give. While none of these promotions or deals would be immediately apparent to or simplify things for the average consumer, it would offer a means for those who really care about getting more bang for their buck to use more data than their allotment each month without paying overages.

What say you, tiered data customers? Do you think you all deserve a nice promotion like free data on nights and weekends, rollover bytes or unlimited mobile access through partnered services? Do you like the idea of drop-casting? Share your thoughts and any other possible data deals you can think of below!

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"How much data do you use?"

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Brandon FromBrooklyn Anywhere between 5 and 8 Gb per month. My standard 5 Gb per month plan wasn't up to snuff. So I had to buy a bigger data plan.
Tj Hill And at&t never slowed my data down and I deg went over 5gb but I'm just saying
Yasir Sohail Mine is on unlimited and so far i have used about 8GB.
Marti Ruiz i love stream music , so i about 15 - 20. but t mobile , att and verizon suck , they call tehir palkn unlimited but if you pass over 5 gb they slow down the speedd , dissapointe d
Flako Ramirez 4GB a month and i got umlimited from verizon thank god i got on it before they changed their plans like the rest of the carriers except sprint
Keith Thomas About 25 gb
Mike Gould Jive never gone over 200 mb
Anthony Andrade Even with unlimited from sprint, I haven't gone over 9gb. But I am using 3G. And now I realize why sprint might stop unlimited. Really, over 100gb in a month.:(
Frank Porter I use as much as I want to use. Still unlimited baby. Hahaha! That's not to say I go overboard wtih it, I generally don't use that much. It's just nice not to have to worry about it.
Brandon Trinkle This month I made a point to stay off of my WiFi connection at home just to see how much data I actually use. May plan ends on the 25th and so far I've used 705.53 MB of data. In no way, shape, or form should there be unlimited data for anywhere near the same price as a tiered plan. If a person wants to use 10, 20, 30 or I think I read 160 GB (?!?!?!) on here then they should have to pay for what they use! I can very easily use WiFi all month and use less than 200 MB cellular data, but even when I do use cellular data I don't use that much. Bottom line is pay for what you use!
Marianna Plahtaric Belko Not even 2gb.... If I want to watch something it will be streaming through my HDTV at home
Justin Cartier 3-4 gigs a month on unlimited.
Equaknox Knox i have unlimited on my evo,...but my iphone on at&t easy 5-7 gig..i am about to jumo ship..lookn at ,,h20/simple moble too,,,at&t is whack...
James Miller Just on the phone 5-10gb with tethering I've used 32gb
Servontius Turner Got a tethering plan just so I could have more than 2 GB's. Google music is killing me!!! But I love it.
Ivan Pineiro I've got sprint so its all good
Eddie Velasquez Most 34 gigs but on avg 12-17
Cristofher Huerta almost 10 GB!!!!
Tim Miyashiro Me? I use 200MB a month. Do I want to use more? Sure, but I don't wanna pay for it. Bring back unlimited!
Jonathan Narine Tmobile cap
William Smith If cricket ,virgin ,or boosts gets 4g will be leaving Verizon but 7 to 8 a month unlimited data lots of updates and movie watching
Anthony Beltran What they need to do is bring back unlimited data and stop being so stingy
Don McGrew II This comment has been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P .A and has been removed. ¦¦¦ ¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦ ¦¦¦¦¦¦ ¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦ ¦¦ ¦¦¦¦ ¦¦ ¦¦¦¦ ¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦¦ ¦¦ .¦¦¦ ¦¦¦
Carlos Joesph Medina 12-15 sprint... Lots of netflix YouTube
Joseph Kutchukov 1.5-2.5 gb average
Mike Marquez 10-15 unlimited.
Nick Catelli I'm on Verizon with unlimited data. Got grandfathered in before they shit on everyone. I use probably around 3ish gigs a month give or take.
Jason Torchy 1.5 gigs so far with verizon. (Got in with their promotion of 4 gigs for 30). Though the most i have ever used up in one month was 155 with sprint.
Cedric Duke Jr. I used 20gbs this month on my Galaxy Nexus on Verizon. I always use Wifi when I am at home too.
Danu Carrión Perales I'm by 13.56Gb right now and still have 4 days till cycle ends lol! No tethering btw
Jerry Adney All of it!
Blake Bjorlin 8-10 every month. Sprint unlimited is the way to go.
Adam Van Weelden Most I used was 160GB, but AT&T put an end to that... So I put an end to AT&T. =) Now I'm with Sprint.
Darren Penix What uses the most data?
Dylan Daratt
Arturo Cifuentes I use about 16 to 24 gigs a month
Daniel Cuadrado I used 10gb last month. Still have AT&T 's unlimited iPhone plan.
Zach Cline Unlimited data ftw!!! Normally I push around 6gb a month but I have gone over ten before.
Daniel Quintero 6gb at most with Netflix and hulu
Tyler Shoulders 10.569GB of Unlimited
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Anyone that uses 20 gbs a month must not have a life..
Tyler Shoulders 11,081,935.8KB of Unlimited Is that alot?
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Less than 2gbs
Jeff Carlisle I've used 8gb this month... usually around 4. I'm fine with what's currently available...
Ruben Jaramillo 5gb then I get capped :'(
Juan Cuara 1000 GB no joke.
Tim Killian Around 2GB+
Danny Wharton Jr Verizon unlimited
Alex Panayiotou About 1.5 gb
Tim Shull Less than 1gig
Preston Schmith Too damn much!!! Y cant i go back to alltel with unlimited!!! Totaly retarded to limit data... Just another way of phone companies to say; here, stick it up ur ass...
Max Wong I have Verizon unlimited and I use about 3-5 gb every month
Craig Marino A couple gigs on 3g. A couple gigs on wimax. No big deal. 7 was The most I ever used but that isn't alot neither. Most of my downloads are usually on wifi
Jennifer Lynn Rodriques I was with Sprint so I had unlimited but since I switched over to Verizon I got a 3g phone so now I have 5 gb of dated and so far that seem to be working fine
Jonathan Hernandez How much? Umm the whole data I can bc is unlimited and I pay for it
Anthony Douglas 3-7 no tethering
Reginald Austin Sprint:UNLIMITED
Reginald Austin 20 gigs a Month! No Tethering
Steven Basso 500 mb usually
Jeff Hollins I only went to 2.1 GB and got throttled by AT&T. WTH!
Jason Bourdeau On my 3G phone I would get around 2 gigs but on my Galaxy Nexus I easily went over 8 gigs.
Nain El Fuego Romero 11 gb last month, no tethering
Cory Wood no, cause we had to pay the price to take the data then. Why should they get a break now!!
Pierce G Hohenstein When I first made the switch to the iPhone on Verizon I was petrified that I would use more than my allotted 2 GB of data. However I was pleasantly surprised when my first bill came and I had not even touched one and a half. I love the iPhone and would never own anything else. I am a fanboy this is certain.
Alfonso Hall Having a jailbroken iPhone doesn't help at all!!!
Jesse Ling i think data needs to be unlimited but at a reasonable price,the companies have to make enough to pay for that data and everything else
Ian Slade But i'm on 3's all you can eat data... so no worries!
Ian Slade About 10 gig a month
Eric Huxtable I don't know . I hate having to think about it so i am on sprint. Even thought they do throttle offenders of heavy use, I've used YouTube a lot and haven't been throttled at all.
Angel Gonzales Over 5gigs
Jose Marcano I have verizon and I almost always come so close to going over my data 2 gig is not enough
Daniel Quintero Sprints unlimited
Orga Price I used 1.5GB in a week. Half of that was Netflix.
Alex Schram To much...
Arman Nazaryan Too much haha

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