Like death and taxes, tiered data plans seem like an inevitability for most wireless carriers in today’s market. Not able to deliver high-speed service to all of their users around the clock, networks are breaking their data offerings down into packages that encourage more economic data usage and can reward the frugal bandwidth consumer with a lower monthly bill than would be possible with only unlimited data options. Verizon dipped its toe in the tiered waters last fall with a $15 150MB plan, but has since abandoned the plan. Now the company is talking tiered again, with the change likely to occur sometime this summer.
Verizon CFO Fran Shammo made the revelation to investors, specifying a mid-summer window as the most probable time for the new data plans to come into effect. Right now, there’s just the $30 unlimited plan offered. In the past, Verizon kept that unlimited option while also offering a plan with a limited data allotment, but we can’t say if that will be the case again this time; the company may forgo the unlimited option. AT&T, for instance, no longer has an unlimited data tier for smartphones (though lower-end devices can still sign up for unlimited data).
Presumably, existing plans would be honored, but you’d be forced to switch to one of the new tiers next time you try making any changes to your account. The tiered rates are expected to affect both 3G and 4G LTE service. There’s a chance we could see tiers with different speed ratings, as Shammo mentioned last year, saying, “if you want to pay for less speed, you’ll pay for less speed and consume more, or you can pay for high speed and consume less.”