Verizon CEO discusses unlimited data, device upgrades at investor conference

by: Nate SwannerSeptember 24, 2013
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Lowell McAdam

At an investor conference on Tuesday, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam had some interesting thoughts on unlimited data. McAdam said “With unlimited, it’s the physics that breaks it. If you allow unlimited usage, you just run out of gas.”

As streaming video and always-on location detection increasingly come into play, our data plans become more and more important. If we intend to truly be connected at all times, then we will be dependent on cellular data plans. The move to 5G will help with these data concerns, according to McAdam, but Verizon’s stance against unlimited data remains unchanged.

The CEO of the nation’s largest carrier went on to discuss pricing, and opined that Verizon wouldn’t be interested in a pricing war. “We never have, and never will, lead on price” McAdam quipped, noting that the models recently adopted by rivals like T-Mobile and Sprint — who both offer unlimited data — would have no effect on how Verizon plans to proceed.

Speaking to the process of upgrading a device, McAdam believes programs like Verizon Edge can help to create a “friction” that ends up beneficial for the company. The Verizon CEO also said that creating barriers in allowing customers to upgrade freely is better for Verizon’s bottom line. While programs like Edge can help to soften the blow of spending on devices, McAdam believes that having the right devices is what will bring consumers back, calling customer retention a “virtuous cycle”.

When it comes to Verizon’s plans for the future, McAdam touted their network reliability and LTE expansion. “We’ve got footprint we like. We’re going to press that advantage.”

  • Tylerstravis

    I will never be with Verizon without unlimited data. I have it now and my choice is to purchase a new phone in full or jump ship… leaning towards jumping ship.

    • Clifton Keathley

      Ditto here as well

      • sk102704

        Make that three of us.

        • lj

          Make that 4

          • frhow


          • skjdhg


          • dick

            7 i bought a broken phone on ebay and repaired it to keep my unlimited

          • Republic Wireless

            8) I hang on to VZW. If my current unlimited goes away, I may jump ship to Republic Wireless and buy the new MOTO X with them.

          • Make it 9. Once my contract on my other line is up, I am out. Nexus on T-Mobile sounds pretty nice to me. Not to mention saving $130+ a month.

      • Sam

        I bought my last phone off contract to keep my unlimited data, then my mom went into a Verizon to buy an iPhone cover and the a-hole salespeople swindled her into “saving $10 a month”. Long story short, me and my brother lost our unlimited plans and now we share 4gb between 4 people.

        • Tylerstravis

          Sad day!

    • Cal Rankin

      Made the jump. Moved my family to T-Mobile, but I picked up a GoPhone SIM for myself and my Galaxy Nexus. (Don’t really like the crappy EDGE service in my area, but T-Mobile has the cheapest for 5 lines) I might try out Aio or Straight Talk if the mood strikes me.

  • Shawn Roth

    I have verizon, and I wish they would go back to unlimited data, but with speed tiers (much like cable companies internet). Then you could pay 30 bucks a month a certain speed, and not a certain amount of data…wouldn’t this make everyone happy?

    • Test User

      Speed tiers would be a great idea. However it wouldn’t likely be possible due to cellular data reception being a factor in speed. This isn’t like home internet where the throughput is set and your connection is stationary where they can almost guarantee a certain speed where the customer could potentially file complaints and they be ok to take it.

      • Shawn Roth

        Even your home service isn’t is just up to the speed you are paying for. So this would be no different…

  • Marcellus1

    Honestly, I don’t really care much about unlimited data. Most of my data usage is at home or at work and goes through wifi rather than a carrier. The statement about improving Verizon’s bottom line seems all too true, however, and I likely won’t be with Verizon anymore once my contract is up.

  • Lost_Fan

    It seems VZW will change their tune once they see people are bailing. I was with them for years and switched to T-mobile to save approx. $60/month for two phones.

  • wezi427

    I’ve been with Verizon since 2005. I must say that I’ve never had a problem the service. They are expensive, but I must say that I’ve never had a dropped call. I average about 5gigs a month. I’m on the unlimited plan and I don’t plan on giving it up.
    A few of the people I work with have AT&T and they have to go outside to make a phone call. Same goes with T-Mobile. I’m not saying that they are bad providers, but in my area they can’t compare to Verizon.
    I do believe that they are too expensive. I’m glad that people are leaving them. The unlimited means a lot to me. I’ll pay for a phone at full price to keep it.

    • chello gonzalez

      your full of shit saying you don’t get dropped calls, because every carrier gets them no matter who your with. especially you being with Verizon for 8yrs, come on dude who tour kidding, no dropped calls in 8yrs. BULLSHIT!!!!! Get off there Dick!

      • wezi427

        I haven’t. I don’t need to explain that to you. I’m sorry if you live in some shit town. If anyone or anything is Dick, it’s you.

      • Jeremiah Sexton

        I’ve been with them for 6 years and not one dropped call, I can make calls in basements others can’t. I also average 30Gs a month tethering my WiFi hot spot to all my houses devices. I average about 20-30Mbs speed with it as well.

        • wezi427

          I live in Philadelphia and the service is great. I can make calls from my basement too. Like I said two guys that I work with won’t get a signal inside the building that we work in. They have to go outside and walk a block over to get a signal. People say that Verizon is expensive, I will not argue that. Where I live, it’s worth the price to get the service that I have.

      • Cal Rankin

        some people don’t ever get dropped calls, even with Sprint. Don’t get me wrong, man, I’ve had calls dropped or distorted (i.e. I could hear them, but they couldn’t hear me), but in some places, some carriers don’t drop calls.

        • wezi427

          I truly never had a dropped call. I’ve had distortion, but never a dropped call.

          • Cal Rankin

            I had one, and several one-way calls, but only one dropped call.

          • wezi427

            The guy that left the initial comment after my post doesn’t believe that’s possible. It is, maybe he should try Verizon instead talking sh!t. He says he feels bad for Verizon customers because we pay a lot. He is also right that the have the most coverage

  • somedude

    hmm i have unlimited in the UK on 3 and it rocks , i connect my phone via Bluetooth to my car stereo and listen to Google music and other streamed music ,i wouldn’t want to go back to the old days of worrying about how many poxy mb i have left.

  • trlovejoy

    Every time I see a Verizon article all I can think of is Where Is My 4.3 For My Galaxy Nexus?

    • Techhwk138

      Root it champ. Don’t rely on OTA with Verizon..

      • trlovejoy

        Yeah, I know, I know. I go back and forth. I always like to see how the stock stands up. Really I wonder if VZW has ended support yet. When they do it’ll be CM and never look back. And I’m kinda curious about the new installer, waiting for that. Thanks for your replies, guys. </offtopic>

    • David

      on XDA or Rootzwiki ;)

  • Nathan Powell

    only reason I haven’t left AT&T is cause they’ve let me keep my unlimited plan (that I had before they stopped doing it)

  • Test User

    How exactly does one “run out of gas” on an infrastructure that is already built? This isn’t natural resources. As long as there is electricity to power the towers, u get data. All you have to do is sit back and collect $ from customers and maintain the towers.

    Also I have unlimited data on T-Mobile. I probably use 3-4 Gb/month. I get unlimted so I don’t have to worry. Less headache on my end. Sure, enforce throttling on those that use the infrastructure to an extreme where it impacts other users, but I highly doubt every single customer is going to ring up a few TB of data on LTE every month.

    • Sean Karpa

      I am not saying I exactly agree with what he is saying; however, it make it unlimited, people will use more data (exactly how much is open to debate). These towers can only transmit so much data at a time, this will cause a slow down in speed and a drop in reliability. The tower would then need to be upgraded to maintain speed. Then Verizon could end up getting stuck with constantly trying to upgrade towers.
      That aside, $30 for 3GB is too much. $30 for 5-6Gb is more fair.

      • modified67

        >>These towers can only transmit so much data at a time, this will cause a slow down in speed and a drop in reliability.

        NO. This plays into Big Red’s thinking: Charge the shit out of customers for crappy mobile and pocket the cash instead of upgrading your network to support more bandwidth/speed. Short-term mindset ignoring the benefits of said upgrading.

        • Sean Karpa

          I stated that the cost of data is over priced, maybe you should reread my post. However, I can see why it may not be economical to offer unlimited. The towers could possibly need upgrading so often that it is hard to turn a profit.

          • Test User

            There is QOS available, I’m sure. Plus it is mobile data. I don’t think customers really care if they can’t hit that magical top limit as nothing is promised. This isn’t like home internet where you pay for 50mbps and you demand to see 50mbps.

  • andrew

    I’m keeping my unlimited data for as long as I want, I have no plans on upgrading phones and will stream as much video or do as much web browsing as possible

  • Techhwk138

    I do see his point regarding the fact that things can get clogged eventually, but if you’re going to force people to shared/tiered plans…YOU DON’T HAVE TO ABSOLUTELY SCREW PEOPLE OVER WITH PRICING. Rant over.

  • chello gonzalez

    RYeah Verizon has the most towers, and they also have the most expensive plans in the Planet. I feel bad for their customers because they are getting robbed of there money. Especially with that new yearly upgrade plan Verizon is doing. Do some research Verizon customers and do the math and see the comparison, on what you guys have to pay, same goes for at&t. you guys will be charged double the amount of what you would normally pay in a 2 year contract bit in one year. tell me how that is fair to Verizon customers. look it up at CNET, they do all the comparison of all the carriers. Verizon charging the most, at&t right behind Verizon. T-Mobile and Sprint have the more less expensive TRUE unlimited data plans.

    • mrjayviper

      Do the comparison but also compare coverage. No point moving to another carrier if there’s no signal.

      • wezi427


      • wezi427

        I do pay a lot for my service. I think it’s worth it because I know that they have the best coverage. I know that when I need to use my phone it is going to have the coverage necessary to work. He can cry all he wants about how the other companies are, but they can’t compete. The amount of active users backs that up.

  • Kindroid

    35 years ago…Ma Bell said the same thing about long distance. Just saying.

  • M3D1T8R

    If Verizon would just make the data plans like any other utility, which is what carriers should be considered as, and charge a reasonable rate like $1 per GB with maybe a $20 minimum, I could reluctantly understand, though I’d still be paying a lot more than I currently do with unlimited for $30. But no, despite record profits, the business model is: Less bandwidth for more money. Good for the company bottom line, bad for the consumer. But since we don’t have a functioning non-monopoly free market (which would require 5+ major national carriers) we don’t see the advantages of true competition, like a reasonable per GB rate as suggested above.

    Though I’ve been paying for it for years, I only just recently and with much effort and expense barely now get Verizon 4G service at my place, and to be clear, Verizon is my only internet option here. Before this I only got their terrible clogged 3G (around 0.2Mbps). Now I can finally use the internet for Netflix and games, so I do. Just one hour of Netflix can be over one GB. I have only had 4G for less than a month, and just started using Netflix about a week ago and I’m at nearly 50GB. I’ve given Verizon so much money over the years, now that I finally have working service you can be damn sure I’m going to take advantage of it until they force me out. My current contract is good until next July, so I should be good at least until then. (Hopefully by the time they do force me off, we’ll have crazy magical Google internet service from space or something.) I’m quite sure I’ll use over 100GB next month, from just normal usage (no torrent downloads, etc.). That would cost over $1000 with Verizon’s current ridiculous rates. Makes paying full retail for my next device upgrade seem not so bad at all.

    Sorry, this turned into quite the rant. I realize my situation is relatively rare. Anyone else in a similar boat?

  • disqus_q3tIKt1XCp

    I would come back if they brought back unlimited data. But I will stay with T-Mobile till then and hope they beef up their network in smaller towns. When I drive back home, I have almost no service the whole 6 hour drive.

  • greennick98

    How about they do what SK did in s. Korea… You get 2gb a day! On average that’s 62gb a day!!! Verizon has a hold on me as sprints LTE in my area is terrible, tmobiles coverage doesn’t hold me and, and att already burnt me long ago…

  • pt

    Verizon is TOPS at what they do sure T mobile and sprint offer unlimited data but it’s not truly unlimited just READ the fine print…. Most people don’t need unlimited data they just like complaining about it. It freaks them out individual lines may need 2GB or 3GB at most .. it’s 2014 everywhere you go WIFI is everywhere USE IT your nuts if your not using it think about this for a sec most places you go like restaurants and retail stores etc are the same ones you visit on a regular basis. So next time your in there set to connect to there FREE WIFI that’s it next time it will automatically connect I go to my local Starbucks even in the drive thru my phone is on WIFI even just for a couple minutes. … One another thing never hesitate to ask your friend or family member for there WIFI password when you’re at their house trust me they will ask you for yours…