Are you still clinging to that unlimited data plan?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: July 25, 2014

While I was in a carrier store the other day, a customer was talking about how they were considering switching over, but that there were factors they needed to consider before they could make the change. The representative asked all the necessary questions, whittled down the reasons, before it became abundantly clear that the only reason they were sticking with their current plan, and not switching to the new carrier like they (really) wanted, was because of a pre-existing unlimited data plan.

They had been grandfathered in, and grandfathered in again, and had even managed to avoid any and all specials/deals/whatever else had been thrown their way to try and get them to switch. It's no surprise that the carriers that do not offer unlimited data want the customers that are still on those plans to get off them, and for awhile there many customers could have assumed the networks were hostile about those plans.

However, it has calmed down quite a bit since the initial changes started to take effect. Now, we're a few years later, but there are still subscribers out there that just refuse to let go. Which, honestly, I can understand. Our networks are faster, our applications and games are bigger than ever before, and our devices are more worthwhile when it comes to actually using them. The fear that you may run out of data in a month, and therefore pay more when you go over, is probably a real one. Or, maybe your old (unlimited) plan is just cheaper than what's on option now. Whatever the case, per person, I'm sure there are some legitimate reasons why one would hang onto those plans.

I've got a friend who is making the switch from unlimited data to the shared data movement in October, and he's not looking forward to it at all. Of course, while we were talking about this switch I asked him how much data he uses every month, and his "around 2GB" didn't surprise me at all. And I pointed out to him that if he knows he has unlimited data now, just as he has for months and months, what makes him think he'll go over just because he switches to a new plan? He's already got a device that's relatively new, already has access to his network's LTE, and he has all the "big" games and apps on his phone (even ones he doesn't use). So what would change?

"Nothing, it's just not unlimited." Well, touché, I guess.

Today, Verizon confirmed that they're going to implement some "network optimization" policies, which effectively translates to, "Meet these requirements, we're going to throttle your data speeds." As my fellow Editor, Alex, pointed out, the rules are pretty specific, but then again, most of the requirements are pretty simple to accomplish: have a 4G LTE-enabled device, be on an unlimited data plan and fulfill the minimum requirements for your contractual agreement. Those are . . . well, luckily for many customers, that's not all that has to be done to get throttled.

The first requirement is the big differentiator: be part of the top five percent of data users on its network.

So, if you match all the three aforementioned categories, but not that specific one, you should be okay, and you won't see your speeds throttled. If you do manage to hit all four, then your speeds will get throttled until you switch plans, or you stop using so much data.

Basically, Verizon is reminding its unlimited data users that it wants you off that specific plan, and that you need to switch over to the new and shiny. My question to you is: are you going to? Do you plan on ever giving up your unlimited data, if you can honestly help it? And if you have to give it up, will you switch to another carrier to effectively get it back? Let me know!