Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CFO Fran Shammo discussed the coming changes at the J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference Wednesday, telling attendees that when customers upgrade to Long Term Evolution (LTE) smartphones, they must also purchase data-share plans, which Verizon expects to launch by midsummer, and ditch unlimited data. He didn't say what happens if they stay on 3G, however; Verizon is only introducing LTE phones this year, so its customers will eventually need to upgrade. (See Verizon Goes All Out for LTE Smartphones .)
"A lot of our 3G base is unlimited," he said at the conference. "As they start migrating to 4G, they will have to come off of unlimited and go into the data share plan. And that's beneficial for us for many reasons, obviously."
Why this matters
Verizon stopped offering unlimited data plans last July, but the move only affected new customers or those who signed a new contract. Nixing unlimited entirely is likely to anger customers that were counting on avoiding the carrier's data caps. (See Verizon: Turn Tiers to Smiles.)
With the exception of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), all of the wireless operators have moved to tiered data plans with caps. But, for example, nearly 40 percent of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s customers are still on unlimited plans. Verizon didn't reveal how many have been grandfathered in, but in Light Reading's survey of readers in February, 71 percent of Verizon customers said they were still on unlimited plans. It's safe to say that a lot of people will be affected.
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