Unlimited Data Users Get Thrown A Curveball With Verizon’s, AT&T’s Latest Moves
It is not easy being a subscriber of unlimited data plans, particularly those under Verizon Wireless’ or AT&T’s legacy plans. The two biggest wireless carriers in the United States just implemented some new changes -- Verizon is threatening heavy users (those who go beyond 200 gigabytes of data per month) with disconnection notices, while AT&T is increasing the pricing of its grandfathered plans by $5 a month -- and subscribers of unlimited plans must now be feeling like they are being singled out.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks for all things unlimited. During the recently concluded Consumer Electronics Show held in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, John Legere, the ever outspoken chief executive officer of T-Mobile, took the stage to once again express his company’s commitment to get every mobile user to enjoy unlimited data. This is in high contrast to what the industry leaders, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, are doing, but when one looks closely, things are far more complicated than they appear.
Take Verizon Wireless, for instance -- it is easy to see the carrier as this evil tyrant lording mercilessly over its kingdom. But when you consider how much 200 gigabytes of data actually is, you might reconsider. That amount of usage is about equivalent to downloading more video content than you can ever watch in a given month, or running your website entirely on your mobile device. 200 gigabytes really is overkill.
Heavy data users get a lot of flak from wireless service providers because they really do cause network related problems. Some may remember that back in 2015, Legere himself attacked excessive data users. The difference between what T-Mobile did back then and what Verizon Wireless is doing now is the framing. Legere did it through a passionate blog post and he tried to rally the majority of normal data users against heavy data usage. As for Verizon Wireless, it announced the policy through a (too) short email message.
What about AT&T? No customer wants a price hike, but it is usually the sort of thing that people can accept (in time) and the service provider can get away with. And besides, AT&T did it in a way that is not too confrontational, opting instead to politely funnel potentially affected customers to new and quite frankly, better plans.
As for T-Mobile and Sprint, one can argue that both may have skirted the issue altogether by continuing to offer unlimited data plans, but compressing the video data to a more manageable level. That way, mobile users can still enjoy all the video content they can access, just not at full high definition quality, which when viewed on mobile display screens is actually okay.