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7/5/2011
02:47 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Verizon Tiered Data: What's The Fallout For Business?

Verizon Wireless is prepared to end its unlimited data plans July 7 and instead force customers to adopt a new, tiered pricing structure. How will this affect your bottom line?

The unlimited data party at Verizon Wireless is officially coming to a close starting Thursday, July 7. New customers making purchases on or after the 7th will no longer be able to choose an unlimited data plan.

For years, Verizon Wireless has charged smartphone customers $30 per month for unlimited (or 5 GB) data. Now, $30 per month will purchase data customers only 2 GB of data. You want more, you'll have to pay more. For 5 GB, customers will have to pony up $20 more than they used to and spend $50 per month. Need more than that? Verizon is charging a whopping $80 per month for 10 GB.

Those who exceed their monthly allotment will be hit with a $10 charge per extra gigabyte of data. For example, subscribers of the $30 plan who go over 2 GB will be charged $40 for the month, but they'll have access to 3 GB. If they exceed that, they'll be hit with another $10 charge for a total of $50 for up to 4 GB. In other words, if you go over the limit, it isn't the end of the world. Most users will see only an extra $10 or $20 added to their monthly bill, which is hardly disastrous.

The good news: Existing customers will be able to grandfather in their unlimited data plan if they upgrade to a new device on or after July 7. That means if your employees already have Verizon Wireless smartphones with unlimited data plans, they won't be affected immediately.

Perhaps what is most disappointing about this change is that Verizon isn't offering any sort of savings. When AT&T dropped its $30 unlimited data plan down to 2 GB, at least it reduced the monthly price by $5 down to $25. Verizon's plan is asking customers to pay the same amount for less service. I am a bit surprised there's no 1 GB plan costing $15 or $20 per month.

What should businesses do about this?

This is actually a really good time to monitor and explore how your business and its employees make use of mobile data. For example, if your company has a batch of smartphone plans ending in the next six months, it would benefit you to collect statistics on how much data is consumed, by whom, where, and for what general purposes. When it comes time to negotiate a new contract with Verizon, this information could mean the difference between spending the right amount or over-paying for monthly data fees.

More importantly, business account holders will need to speak with their Verizon business sales representative to see what sort of options are available for pooled data within corporate accounts.

If your company employs the bring-your-own-device strategy and allows employees to expense monthly cell phone bills, it is probably worth asking them check their own data usage to make sure they're using the right plan when it comes time to re-up.

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