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August 2, 2019
Verizon appears hell bent on making sure that, at some point in the future, customers pay extra for 5G.
At least, that's one of the takeaways from the operator's newest unlimited pricing structure, announced today. The other big takeaway is that Verizon appears determined to make unlimited pricing as absolutely complicated as possible -- the operator now offers five (5!!!!) different unlimited pricing plans. That's an increase from three previously.
In a trend that's all-too-reminiscent of Gillette's ever-growing number of blades in its shaving razors, Verizon today introduced five different unlimited pricing options:
Do More Unlimited
Play More Unlimited
Get More Unlimited
There are probably plenty of differences among those plans, but let's just sit back and appreciate the sheer monstrosity of this development for a moment, shall we?
Anyway, what does all this mean for 5G? It means that Verizon is not going to give up on its goal of getting people to pay more for 5G. That probably comes as a relief to shareholders worried about the staggering costs of deploying extensive 5G operations in millimeter-wave spectrum.
Verizon is currently offering 5G services in four of its new unlimited plans: Start Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, Play More Unlimited and Get More Unlimited. However, only one of those plans -- Start Unlimited -- will actually charge $10/month extra for 5G. (It's no surprise that Start Unlimited is the cheapest of the bunch at $70 per month.)
5G will be included for free for a "limited time" in Verizon's other unlimited plans, which range from $80-$90/month. How long is that "limited time?" Verizon isn't saying. But in its marketing materials Verizon makes it very clear that 5G is a "10/mo value" for all customers, regardless of which plan they pick.
Unlimited vs. 'unlimited'
There's one final point to make on Verizon's 5G marketing, and it centers on the meaning of "unlimited." As most 4G LTE customers know, 4G LTE "unlimited" plans aren't actually unlimited. Instead, customers get a certain amount of high-speed data, and then their speeds are slowed after they cross that threshold. In Verizon's new 4G LTE unlimited plans, customers get high-speed access on the first 25GB-75GB they use in a month (depending on the plan) and then speeds are slowed thereafter. Similarly, with 4G LTE hotspots, speeds are slowed after monthly usage of 15GB-30GB, depending on the plan.
But in 5G, Verizon promises that it's really and truly unlimited, both for phone usage and also for hotspot usage.
So what's the catch here? If it's really and truly unlimited, can you use Verizon's 5G as a replacement for your home Internet service? "Due to the nature of the technology we are using, our 5G Ultra Wideband network currently only works outdoors," says a Verizon spokesperson.
So there you go.
Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading
Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.
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