Verizon to Place Cap on Data Usage, Discards Unlimited Data Plan

July 6, 2011
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Starting tomorrow, Verizon Wireless will be implementing a 2-gigabyte limit on data access under its 30-dollar-per-month wireless broadband subscription plan. The limit will only apply to new customers. Current subscribers of the unlimited data plan will not be affected by the new policy and will continue to access uncapped data for the same flat fee of U$30.

Verizon’s spokesman, Howard Waterman, said that for average users, 2 gigabytes is usually more than enough for a thousand emails, about a hundred webpages, about 20 hours of streaming music, about 2 hours of hi-def video, and about 20 photo uploads.

Subscribers who need a higher data limit can opt for higher-priced plans. For instance, Verizon subscribers can get 5 gigabytes of data for a monthly fee of US$50, and 10 gigabytes for US$80. Users who go beyond the data limit of their subscription plan will be charged US$10 for every excess gigabyte of data.

New Verizon subscribers affected by the new policy will receive regular notifications about their monthly quota. For instance, Verizon will send a free SMS notice when a user reaches 50, 75, 90, and 100 percent of her or his data limit. A warning message will also be sent when the user goes beyond limit.

Mobile carriers have started placing limits on wireless data usage since last year. AT&T was the first to remove unlimited data plans on its list of offerings. T-Mobile still allows unlimited data but lowers data transfer speeds for heavy users. Sprint hasn’t joined the usage quota or speed limit bandwagon yet.

Mobile networks have found it necessary to enforce data usage limits because of the huge explosion of digital media consumption among users. The proliferation and wide availability of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones have also helped increase the demand for digital media.

The carriers’ move to limit data usage, however, will surely affect the way people consume digital media. Cellular industry analyst Craig Moffett notes that “if it’s going to cost more for the consumer to watch a video, they’re going to think twice before they click on that link of the squirrel on water skis.”

How will Verizon’s and other carriers’ data limit policies be affecting your use of your Android device?

Image credit: his_beautiful_girl94/Flickr

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