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Verizon Purges Unlimited Data Customers, Targets Those Using 200GB (arstechnica.com) 196

If you're a Verizon customer on an unlimited data plan who uses more than 200GB a month, you will soon need to switch to a limited plan or be disconnected, according to Verizon. "Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a small group of customers on unlimited plans who use more than 200GB a month that they must move to a Verizon Plan by February 16, 2017," Verizon spokesperson Kelly Crummey told Ars Technica today. Ars reports: Since Verizon stopped offering unlimited data to new smartphone customers in 2011, this change affects only longtime customers who were allowed to hang on to the old plans. Verizon could simply force all customers who aren't under contract to switch to new plans, but instead it has periodically made moves that reduce the numbers of unlimited data subscribers. This policy will apply to people who average more than 200GB "over several months," Verizon said. Customers who do not move to limited plans "will be disconnected," Verizon confirmed. On limited plans, customers get reduced speeds after they exceed monthly data limits unless they purchase extra 4G LTE data. Verizon previously purged its unlimited data rolls in August 2016. In that case, Verizon set a limit of 500GB a month, the company told Ars today. This is more specific information than we previously reported. Shortly before the August 2016 move, Verizon told us that it was targeting customers who were "using data amounts well in excess of our largest plan size (100GB)," but Verizon did not specify that it was only targeting customers using at least 500GB. With the threshold being dropped from 500GB to 200GB, the latest move will affect customers who weren't using enough data to be caught up in the last round.
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Verizon Purges Unlimited Data Customers, Targets Those Using 200GB

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  • Unlimited? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Place a name here ( 4508093 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:50PM (#53637773)
    So "unlimited data" customers who use more than a 200GB cap are forced into a limited plan? That's a rather odd definition of "unlimited" from Verizon.
    • Re:Unlimited? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:24PM (#53637963)

      If you want to be obtuse: unlimited plans are grandfathered, kept for existing customer loyalty purposes but not offered to new subscribers. They could force everyone (out of contract, which is everyone on unlimited plans) to switch to their 100GB plan or simply terminate service - just because they offered the unlimited plans back in 2011 does not obligate them to continue to offer them in 2017.

      Now, having defended the big red V, let me say that they are douchebags to do business with and I dropped them like a hot potato once I moved to a location where they weren't the only provider with decent coverage in my neighborhood.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "out of contract, which is everyone on unlimited plans"

        Not quite. There have been loopholes which allowed renewing unlimited plans - that would happen if you got a subsidized phone and didn't change plans. I'm still on an unlimited contract until later this year. But your point is taken, they could terminate unlimited even for people under contract if they wanted to, but those people would have the opportunity to leave without paying an early termination fee.
    • It's unlimited right up to the moment where they no longer want you as a customer. It is truly unlimited. But they're letting you know that you only get one month unlimited before you'll be kicked to the curb.

      If you offer "free electricity!" but someone comes and plugs in a hybrid car through an extension cord you can ban them and it doesn't make the electricity they used any more or less free.

    • Re:Unlimited? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @09:46PM (#53638529)
      They have unlimited data. Really, Verizon doesn't limit anyone on an unlimited plan.

      If they're under contract, per the contract terms, Verizon can change it at any time and make unlimited go away - but also per the contract, the user then has a choice. If they don't like it, they can leave without having to pay any early termination fee.Their choice.

      If they're not under contract, what's the problem? There's no obligation for either party to continue.

      Verizon has been very reasonable about allowing people to remain on unlimited plans, they could simply make everyone on one sign up for a current plan if they wished. But they don't - they're still letting people who use less that 2x the current maximum plan stay around, and at less cost than moving to that plan.
      • Re:Unlimited? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @01:12AM (#53639603) Journal

        Verizon has been very reasonable about allowing people to remain on unlimited plans, they could simply make everyone on one sign up for a current plan if they wished. But they don't

        Verizon hasn't been reasonable at all... They've had their asses kicked by the Obama FCC every time they tried to impose limits or restrictions. They've tried not to piss off the FCC, and now that Trump is about to gut the agency, Verizon no longer has anything to worry about, for the next 4 years at least.

    • Unlimited in their dictionary means = you can use it any way you want as long as it does not violate our rules
    • In the USA... unlimited limits you.

  • Un limited (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:50PM (#53637777)

    I have altered the deal
    pray I don't alter it any further

    • Re:Un limited (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:52PM (#53638199)
      The deal is the same as it has always been. It's unlimited, but after the original contract period expires it switches to a month-to-month plan. At which point either party of the contract is free to cancel it for any reason at the end of the month. Verizon was, up til now, doing these people a favor by allowing them to continue under the terms of the old plan, even though they no longer offered that plan.

      If they let you have unlimited data during the time you had the plan, then they've fulfilled their contractual obligation. There is nothing in the contract which says they have to allow you to stay on that plan in perpetuity. And neither should there be. Otherwise your landlord could force you to continue to pay rent as long as he wanted, even if you wanted to move out.
  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @07:52PM (#53637795)

    With the threshold being dropped from 500GB to 200GB, the latest move will affect customers who weren't using enough data to be caught up in the last round.

    Funny way to say more customers will be affected by lowering the threshold.

  • So.. Are we moving beyond simple throttling and are throwing unprofitable but paying customers over the side because they use too much of their "unlimited" data transfer limits? You idiots, just institute progressive throttles on your "problem" paying customers until they start switching, but DON'T announce it to the world. Either that, or start raising rates for these customers.... Oh wait, you locked them into long term contracts? Live with it, pay them to leave or what have you, but it's YOUR mistake to

    • So.. Are we moving beyond simple throttling and are throwing unprofitable but paying customers over the side because they use too much of their "unlimited" data transfer limits? You idiots, just institute progressive throttles on your "problem" paying customers until they start switching, but DON'T announce it to the world. Either that, or start raising rates for these customers.... Oh wait, you locked them into long term contracts? Live with it, pay them to leave or what have you, but it's YOUR mistake to deal with not your customer's...

      Why am I not surprised this is Verizon? Hmm?

      Short-term wins are all that's in most companies' minds. Of course there are smart ones that think long-term but when there's a battle and a finish line in sight, companies don't think because they want to be the winner. What I'm saying is Verizon didn't have a problem with unlimited because it was the "thing" at the time that was driving customers to other companies. Eventually, the other companies got rid of unlimited data, but didn't throw away (at least not publicly) the ones that survived (unlimited

  • First they came for 200 GB users, I was not a 200 GB User, so I did nothing.
    Then they came for 100 GB users, and I was not a 100 GB User, so I did nothing
    Then they came for 50 GB Users, and I was not a 50 GB users, so I did nothing.
    Then they came for me, and millions like me, and we all cried like babies.

    • by JustOK ( 667959 )

      ...and we all cried like babies.

      but not for very long because we hit our data cap

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Except Verizon wants to keep their customers, so they let them keep their Unlimited data plans, as long as they don't actually use them.

      If you use enough data where it would be profitable to Verizon for you to upgrade, then eventually, Verizon is going to strong-arm you into upgrading.

    • My Google Fi account says that I use about 0.4GB per month on average - but, then, I don't usually stream video except when in WiFi coverage, and I only stream Pandora to the car on weekend trips.

  • WOW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:35PM (#53638063) Journal

    Not to be an apologist for a telecom company, in this case Verizon, but holy crap 500 GB is a lot of 4G/LTE data used in a month, even 200 GB on a single cell device is a lot of data. I personally can't imagine using that much data or spending that much time on a smart device. What uses would other /. residents find for that amount of data, unless it was your only access point, e.g. you had no wireless at home or were on the road as a full time mobile user ?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yep I think those all sound like reasons people are pulling 200GB/mo.

      But it shouldn't matter, if it is unlimited it's unlimited. But beyond that, it doesn't matter it's like anything else, including wired connections, the switches will load balance anyway, you're only going to be getting this data if the network isn't congested, if it's full, it's full for you too. Download caps make no sense, if I am pulling 100mb /s over my verizon LTE at 3AM what does that matter if I am the only one up. If they had t

    • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
      I think you'd have to be tethered to use that kind of data, and downloading a shit ton of content to get to 500GB. I don't even use that much on my home Internet connection supporting 3 adults and a teenager.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I kind of struggle to see how you'd do it at all.

      We often stream two programs at once here, I work from home half the time supporting projects where I have to push ISOs/patches, and I barely hit 200 GB a month.

      I can only guess this is a cell device tethered not just to one computer but possibly to a larger network where it is the sole source of Internet connectivity and moving data at nearly the throughput limit of the connection almost continuously.

      I think if it were mobile it'd be a stretch to get that 20

      • I kind of struggle to see how you'd do it at all.

        We often stream two programs at once here, I work from home half the time supporting projects where I have to push ISOs/patches, and I barely hit 200 GB a month.

        I can only guess this is a cell device tethered not just to one computer but possibly to a larger network where it is the sole source of Internet connectivity and moving data at nearly the throughput limit of the connection almost continuously.

        I think if it were mobile it'd be a stretch to get that 200 GB, since you'd have to factor in periods of mobility where the mobile device itself was the only thing using data.

        Agreed. Le me put it this way to say why I agree - I can get 30mbps where I live for $49.99/mo (plus tax/state,fed fees/etc) or I can get 80mpbs using my phone and tethering. At night time when the network volume is down, I can get 110mbps over the air from ATT. So yes, I agree. If I were someone else who needed net access and the local service was unavailable or overpriced, I'd go with what's cheaper.

        FTR, I get 16GB/mo with rollover. I don't use more than 10, tops (some months, less than 1). If I sta

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          Have you found a compelling way, though, to use your phone with tethering to provide broader network access, though?

          I made a half-assed attempt, thinking it would be reasonable on a short-term basis to use it as failover interface with pfsense. The challenge I have is getting the tethering network accessible to my LAN. I rummaged through my collection of access points and couldn't get one that would attach as a bridging peer to the phone's internal access point.

          Phone would show a connected hotspot device,

          • Have you found a compelling way, though, to use your phone with tethering to provide broader network access, though?

            I made a half-assed attempt, thinking it would be reasonable on a short-term basis to use it as failover interface with pfsense. The challenge I have is getting the tethering network accessible to my LAN. I rummaged through my collection of access points and couldn't get one that would attach as a bridging peer to the phone's internal access point.

            Phone would show a connected hotspot device, but the APs would never gain an IP address.

            Sorry for the delay - These work. [ampedwireless.com] I've done it and it works, but I stopped because, you know, I have no economical or social reason to do it. Just tested. I now just use wired internet->wireless->repeater with said repeater.

    • Well, HD (1080) video from Netflix is 2.3 - 3.0 GB per hour. If you assume 3 GB/hour, that translates to 4,000 minutes a month. A season of Star Trek is ~1,000 minutes (Orange is the New Black is clocking in ~800). So, I suppose if you're binging a season a week of some show, you hit that data limit without anything else. That's two hours a day, which is a lot, but not beyond unreasonable to the average American. Especially if you are viewing it while commuting/waiting in airports/some other time when

  • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @08:52PM (#53638197)

    Marketing:
    We have an amazingly fast network capable of moving TBs of data a second!!! Download a movie in super-ultra-HD while boarding your plane in seconds!!! Buy now!!!

    Contracts:
    We will charge you 1 kidney per movie you download, and shame you in the public square. It is horrible to everyone else if you actually use the network.

    Me:
    F U. Worrying about getting reamed for data sucks the fun out of it all. Buys a pay-as-you-go phone and doesn't try to do anything "cool".

    • Marketing:
      We have an amazingly fast network capable of moving TBs of data a second!!! Download a movie in super-ultra-HD while boarding your plane in seconds!!! Buy now!!!

      Contracts:
      We will charge you 1 kidney per movie you download, and shame you in the public square. It is horrible to everyone else if you actually use the network.

      Me:
      F U. Worrying about getting reamed for data sucks the fun out of it all. Buys a pay-as-you-go phone and doesn't try to do anything "cool".

      You make a good point, but don't forget the overall equation - they have the amazingly fast network capable of moving TBs in a second because no one is using it. Put 100 users on it watching movies, browsing the web, downloading/backing up/etc and the timing shifts at the controller and utilized air time take that amazingly fast network and make it a jittery really fast network. Wait, don't we already have that? ;)

  • How are people even doing this? Are they running their entire house through hotspot tethering or something? I rarely use that much on my hardline cable modem, the idea of using it over cellular boggles the mind!

    Maybe people in rural areas who can't get better Internet are taking advantage of this...but then rural areas don't have high contention for cellular access, so Verizon really shouldn't be dicks to them.

  • by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Monday January 09, 2017 @09:14PM (#53638343)

    Unless we double your monthly bill of course.... then the network can handle it fine.... until... you know... next time it can't......

    • Unless we double your monthly bill of course.... then the network can handle it fine.... until... you know... next time it can't......

      Amen. Addendum: "..and come on. We are rolling out '5G'. We have to have somewhere to corral the non-contiguous and over-the-limit users."

  • No such thing as Unlimited. It's always been limited.

  • I also hear that Verizon is doing away with contracts all together. This is how they will worm out of the grandfathered unlimited plans. They will say it only applies to contract customers once the contracts are gone so is the unlimited data. Problem solved.

    • "This is how they will worm out of the grandfathered unlimited plans."

      You speak as if they should offer unlimited forever, even if there are edge users using 500+GB/month. Are you also for rent control so someone who moved into an apartment in Manhattan in 1960 would still only pay $85/month? That doesn't seem fair. There is a reason they are called "grandfathered" customers. And like most grandfathers, they eventually die.

      • I'm not suggesting they offer grandfathered plans forever. I am suggesting that they honor the plans for existing customers. This reminds me of the airlines and the frequent flyer miles. Instead of doing away with the program they just devalue the miles and make it more difficult to redeem them. Eventually the miles become essentially worthless.

        The TelCo's are doing the same thing with "unlimited" plans. Keep bumping up the price and eventually the remaining grandfathered customers will drop out.

        I'm not den

  • If Verizon wants to screw customers more, then keep that in mind when they have to reinstate unlimited data (and in a way that is accessible to the masses) to get access to 5G.

    • If Verizon wants to screw customers more, then keep that in mind when they have to reinstate unlimited data (and in a way that is accessible to the masses) to get access to 5G.

      Agreed. I can see it now:

      I open a new phone for Xmas and am trying it for the first time after the "5G" roll-out.

      Download SpeedTest... Check speed at my location with my nearby towers' levels to see what I get.

      Find out I've already gone over my limit after the test.

      • Would be amusing in the wrongest of ways if they used Verizon Math to set quotas.

        For example:
        100 Gigabytes -> 0.100 Gigabits

        It's not like they've done that before.

  • Wow what a shocker. You mean unlimited doesn't mean unlimited? who would have thunk it?

  • We'll be down to a bit under 10GB/mo allowed in 3 years if they follow this 60%/mo decrease pattern.

  • I just wish that the data I don't use per month could be credited back. It seems pretty fucked up that I can use 3/5 gigs this month and get no credit back, then have to pay an overage next month if I use 7/5 gigs.
  • With the threshold being dropped from 500GB to 200GB, the latest move will affect customers who weren't using enough data to be caught up in the last round.

    Wait, by lowering the threshold they'll snare more people? Wow, thanks for pointing that out Captain Obvious!

  • Libertarian snark really does no favors here.

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