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Verizon hangs up on unlimited data plans, says hello to tiered service

Verizon Wireless will no longer allow new users to sign up for unlimited data plans. With other carriers abandoning the plan as well, is this the end of unlimited data plans in the US?

By Matthew Shaer / July 7, 2011

Verizon's new service pricing bars new users from signing up for unlimited data plans. Here, a man passes a Verizon Wireless outlet in Washington, D.C.

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Verizon announced today it would stop offering unlimited data plans to new users, and instead serve up a smattering of tiered plans. The announcement – news of which has been bandying around the Web for some time – will not affect most regular to light users. Heavy users, on the other hand, will be forced to pay 10 bucks for every GB they download in excess of their monthly limit.

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Some details: Current Verizon unlimited users can continue paying $30 a month for unlimited data for the foreseeable future. New users will have to pay $80 for 10GB a month, $50 for 5GB a month, and $30 for 2GB per month. As Verizon Wireless exec Fran Shammo told PC World earlier this year, the $30 unlimited data plan was designed to be an incentive for new Verizon consumers interested in picking up a Verizon iPhone.

But the Verizon iPhone's been out there for a while, and now Verizon is going tiered, probably for the obvious reason: Tiered plans bring in more cash.

AT&T, of course, has already moved its customers to a tiered plan, and T-Mobile throttles – or slows – service after users hit a certain data threshold. With the latest news from Verizon, Sprint has effectively become the only major US carrier that provides an option for real, unlimited data usage. Which is very good news for Sprint.

"It's a rare advantage for Sprint, which routinely gets outgunned by AT&T and Verizon both in marketing clout and in handset selection," Roger Cheng writes in a smart piece over at CNET. "Sprint, which has hinged its turnaround on more affordable, simple, flat-rate pricing plans, is expected to press its advantage. It could also become a major selling point if it also ends up carrying Apple's iPhone."

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