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Larry Seltzer
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Verizon To Sunset Unlimited Data Plan

Verizon customers who move to 4G LTE will lose their unlimited data plan. But let's not gripe about thieving carriers until we know the specifics. The new 4G LTE "data share" plan could easily turn out to be a better deal, especially for families.

Think of the good times. They were good while they lasted, but it had to end. No way was Verizon's unlimited data plan going to last, not even for the users grandfathered into it after the option was taken from new customers.

Now, according to FireceWireless, Verizon Wireless will push customers into its new "data share" plan, the details of which are not yet released.

The story quotes Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo, who puts it in terms of Verizon Wireless's LTE rollout; as users of the 3G unlimited plan migrate to 4G LTE, they will have to purchase the company's data share plan. The LTE rollout is moving at full clip: "...Shammo noted that by the end of 2013 Verizon's LTE footprint will be equal to or even bigger than its existing 3G footprint."

Many stories (including the FierceWireless story) are reporting that Verizon is ending the unlimited data plan, but that doesn't seem to be what Shammo said. I read it as saying that you can keep it as long as you stay on your old 3G hardware. Presumably users will want to upgrade to get the latest toy, as they always do. This creates an incentive for Verizon Wireless to eliminate 3G-only phones from their lineup as soon as possible.

The data share plan, which will allow a family or small business to share a data cap across multiple devices, could easily turn out to be a better deal for users. I can think of very few families I know with just one data device. Some of those that have one smart phone and one feature phone might get another smart phone if they could share a data plan (depending, of course, on what it all costs).

Verizon Wireless has the best network and it knows it and it charges accordingly. Just because it's the best doesn't mean there's no competition. It isn't going to gouge its way out of customers. It's going to use pricing to try to lock up families instead of single users. Let's wait till we see the specifics before we call it a bad deal.

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