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Verizon Makes its New Unlimited Plan More Confusing

In early 2017, Verizon surprised its customers by bringing back unlimited data plans, an offering that hadn’t been available for Verizon customers for years. Verizon stopped offering its original unlimited plans in 2011; customers who were grandfathered in could still take advantage of the unlimited plans but the telecoms giant was not accepting new unlimited customers.

Verizon’s return to unlimited data was indicative of a number of trends in cellular data. Smaller competitors T-Mobile and Sprint had still offered unlimited data when Verizon had not, and even AT&T offered a version of an unlimited data plan to certain customers. Amid this environment, with people holding on to their phones for longer, and with prices for cellular prices falling, the competitive atmosphere of cellular service had changed.

Now, however, Verizon appears to be narrowing the definition of unlimited data. The company’s previous unlimited plan, which cost $80 per line or $180 for four lines, has been split into four different options, with three available to everyday consumers.

Here is the breakdown of the new lines, as well as what the limitations are of each:

  • Go Unlimited: $75 per line per month, $175 for four lines. Under this plan, Verizon may throttle your data speed at all times. This is not based on any data use limit for users, but is based on whether a user is in a “congested” area. Go Unlimited subscribers still have unlimited calls and text in the U.S., but that perk no longer applies in Canada or Mexico (unlimited data north or south of the border is also gone). Video streaming quality is capped at 480p for smartphones or 720p for tablets. Mobile hotspot use is unlimited but is capped at 600 kbps.
  • Beyond Unlimited: $85 per line per month, $185 for four lines. Reduced speeds occur in a congested area once you surpass 22 gb usage in a billing cycle. Streaming quality caps are set at 720p for smartphones and 1080p for tablets. Mobile hotspot data is capped at 15 gb. This plan also gives you the unlimited data, calls, and texts in Canada and Mexico that the Go plan takes away.
  • The last two plans are the Business Unlimited and Prepaid Unlimited plans. CNET reports that these last two plans are available; however, The Verge and Business Insider only list Business Unlimited in addition to the Go and Beyond plans. Business Unlimited limits users to the streaming quality of Go, coupled with unlimited usage in Canada and Mexico, a hotspot cap of 10 gb (15 gb on a contract), along with a 25 gb limit before throttling occurs for Business customers on a contract. Business Unlimited is available for as low as $45 per month. CNET reports that Prepaid Unlimited “is $80 for a single line for unlimited data that can be slowed at any time and has DVD-quality video and free calls to Canada and Mexico.”
  • So what does this mean for current Verizon Unlimited customers? The good news is that if you still have an older unlimited plan, you can keep it (although the new lowest-tier offering is $5 per month less than the pre-existing plan). However, all unlimited customers will see video streaming quality caps on their plans. It should be noted that Verizon’s competitors all have varying types of throttling or video streaming quality restrictions, as well. OpenSignal reported in August 2017 that after Verizon and AT&T rolled out their unlimited plans, the overall 4G data of their networks saw a slow-down. So, Verizon could be taking steps to lessen strain on the network.

    Read more from CNET, The Verge, and Business Insider.

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