The CDMA operator said Friday that the mandatory data plan starts Jan. 18 -- and it's mandatory whether the customer uses it or not. The rule applies to all 3G multimedia phones that give customers access to email, games, and the Internet [ed. note: a.k.a. all of them].
The minimum spend is $9.99 for a 25-megabyte-per-month package and $29.99 for an "unlimited" one, which is actually capped at 5 GBytes a month. The previous $19.99 data package option for 3G multimedia phones has been dropped. The moves apply to all new Verizon customers and to current users if they decide to switch plans.
Meanwhile, the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based operator has lowered its nationwide unlimited voice plan to $69.99 a month from $99 and will begin offering a nationwide unlimited voice and text plan for $89.99 on Monday.
The move indicates the ever-growing importance of data to the wireless industry and is another sign of carriers inching away from pure "unlimited" data plans for mobile users. AT&T Mobility LLC boss Ralph de la Vega got skewered recently for even hinting that AT&T might consider something other than an everlasting data buffet in the future.
Regular readers of Unstrung will recall that top Verizon Wireless executives have been saying for a couple of years that unlimited data is an unsustainable model for wireless carriers looking to make data -- rather than voice -- their cash cow in the future.
"You will not see unlimited flat-rate pricing on data, in my opinion, in the future," Verizon Wireless CTO Tony Melone told Unstrung in 2008. (See Tony Melone, CTO, Verizon Wireless.)
You can click on the video below to watch all of Melone's comments on data pricing:
Melone's remarks were echoed by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CTO, Dick Lynch, in The Washington Post last week:
- "The problem we have today with flat-based usage is that you are trying to encourage customers to be efficient in use and applications but you are getting some people who are bandwidth hogs using gigabytes a month and they are paying something like megabytes a month. That isn’t long-term sustainable. Why should customers using an average amount of bandwidth be subsidizing bandwidth hogs?"
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung