Verizon’s Unlimited Data Plan
You can’t ever read the fine print too carefully, and that is also the case with Verizon’s new unlimited data plan.
The $80 unlimited plan — or, to phrase it more accurately, “unmetered” plan — that Verizon Wireless rolled out Sunday features fewer carve-outs and restrictions than comparable offerings from AT&T and Sprint, as well as one from T-Mobile, which has responded to Verizon by removing restrictions on hotspot use and video streaming.
To sum up: Verizon is offering unlimited data, talking and texting for a single line, for $80 a month. That’s before taxes and fees, which typically inflate the bil.
Its fine print contains qualifications that deserve a closer look.
— The first is the theoretical threshold at which your service may slow. As Verizon’s frequently-asked-questions page warns, racking up 22 gigabytes of data on a line (not across all devices on your account) may lead the company to “prioritize usage behind other customers during network congestion.”
That’s not a hard cutoff or one you’re stuck with for the rest of the month, and user reports of other carriers’ “deprioritization” policies suggest the effects aren’t that painful.
Hot spot limit
— Verizon’s unlimited plan imposes a secondary limit on tethering, or using the phone as a portable WiFi hotspot to share its connectivity with another device. You get 10 GB a month of LTE tethering — per line, not account.
After that, your tethering drops to 3G speeds, which Verizon corporate-communications director Kelly Crummey said means a minimum of 600 kilobits per second.
Third-party tests suggest the actual speed may be slightly higher: The research firm OpenSignal’s new report on U.S. mobile networks found VzW 3G download speeds averaged just 850 kbps, a twentieth of its LTE-download average. In other words, very slow.
Effective Friday, T-Mobile’s $70-including-taxes-and-fees unlimited plan—the only one sold to new subscribers—will also include 10 GB of LTE hotspot sharing. Today, it constrains that to 3G speeds, which OpenSignal found averaged 4 Mbps. T-Mobile will also let subscribers opt out of having streaming video limited to “480p” DVD-grade resolution.