Speaking at the 40th J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo stated that as these 3G unlimited data plan customers move to 4G LTE devices, they will have to purchase the company’s yet to be announced shared data plans which Verizon plans to launch in mid-summer.
The move is meant to force everyone moving to LTE devices in the future away from unlimited data plans, as Verizon currently allows those with unlimited data plans to keep those plans when upgrading to 4G smartphones, albeit with grit teeth as the carrier wants to avoid the congestion issues that led to its implementation of tiered data within the past couple of years on its older 3G network as a result of the rise in smartphone adoption.
While the move to shared data plans is not new information from the carrier, the move to force customers off of unlimited data plans with the requirement of shared data plans for 4G devices is a new development and will only serve to speed up adoption of 4G devices until those plans are launched. However, the statement taken at face value may mean that Verizon will also make moves to actively force all customers off of unlimited data plans and onto shared data plans regardless of device, which would understandably anger those customers that want to keep that feature for as long as possible.
With Verizon actively taking a stand against unlimited data access on 4G LTE, the new shared data plans are meant to spur increased adoption of data with multiple devices, rather than the older model of dedicated plans per device, which drove many customers away due to the high costs of each data plan per device, whereas with the new shared data plans, the plan covers multiple devices on one account, at the expense of being tied to one fixed amount of data per month and is being targeted towards families.
Time will tell whether Verizon will continue to tolerate current unlimited data users on 4G LTE smartphones, as many of those with such plans are able to take advantage of such features as unlimited mobile hotspot access on the new iPad as well as on LTE mobile hotspots. With this latest move, Verizon looks to stamp that out as soon as possible and is doing so with extreme prejudice.