Over the weekend, Verizon announced an all-new unlimited mobile plan in a message on its website. It’s exciting news in the mobile industry but picking through the details can be an arduous task (I’ve just done it and it took four cups of coffee and a twenty-minute phone call with my therapist).
Below, I’ve tried to outline the most pertinent information about the new service, including prices, restrictions and how it stacks up against the competition. Here’s everything you need to know about Verizon Unlimited.
What the heck is Verizon Unlimited, anyway?
Verizon Unlimited is an introductory network plan which provides unlimited talk, text, and mobile data in the US, Canada and Mexico — with some limitations.
Why is Verizon Unlimited a big deal?
Verizon axed its last unlimited subscription service in 2011 and in September 2016, the company reaffirmed its stance on the subject when CFO Fran Shammo said: “At the end of the day, people don’t need unlimited plans.”
Such plans, however, have become an increasingly attractive prospect in recent years, particularly with the rise of music and video streaming apps.
Verizon clearly now sees the appeal, and as one of the biggest carriers in the US — with what many experts believe to be the best LTE infrastructure — its service could be highly sought-after.
What is included in Verizon Unlimited?
- Unlimited voice, text and data in the US
- Unlimited text/calls to and from Canada and Mexico
- Unlimited voice, text and data in Canada and Mexico
- Mobile hotspot/tethering
- Unlimited HD video
How much does Verizon Unlimited cost?
The single-line Verizon Unlimited plan costs $80 (not including taxes or other fees), as long as you sign up for Auto Pay and paperless billing — otherwise, you’ll pay an extra five bucks. This includes line access but does not include phone repayments, should you take out the plan with a new device or still be in the process of paying off a previous one.
Single-line access also includes the option to add a second or third connected device which could be a tablet/internet device (+$20 per month), or a smartwatch (+$5 per month).
You can use up to 10 lines and 20 connected devices with Verizon Unlimited Multi-Line. This package starts at $100, before taxes and fees, and costs an additional $20 per line: so with two devices, the bill would be $140, with three, $160, with four, $180, and so on. Without Auto Pay and paperless billing, you’ll have to add another $10 to the $100 base fee.
As with the single line plan, this price excludes monthly repayments for smartphones connected on the line and includes the same rates for connected devices.
Can I get a Verizon Unlimited discount?
Reportedly, “ELEU and CLEU discounts will not apply” to the Verizon Unlimited plan, but customers will “be eligible for the equipment discount.” Military and veteran discounts still apply.
Note that the more lines you have connected on multi-line, the less you would pay individually if you split the bill between all parties (with four smartphones on multi-line, for example, the cost is $45 per device instead of $80 per device as with single line).
What about this Verizon Unlimited trade-in offer?
Verizon also allows new customers to trade in an existing smartphone to get a free (or discounted) handset when taking out an Unlimited plan. To qualify you must have a pre-existing number from another carrier and trade in one of 21 eligible devices, but if you make the switch, you could get yourself a free Galaxy S7, iPhone 7, Google Pixel or similar.
The 15 devices which would get you a free upgrade are: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung Note 5, LG G5, LG V20, and HTC 10.
The 6 devices which would get you a discounted upgrade, which would mean an extra $5 per month on your bill, are: Apple iPhone SE, Samsung Note 4, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G4, LG V10, and HTC M9.
Be aware that the device traded in must be in good working order and cosmetic condition.
The smartphone you receive must remain active on the device payment agreement for 24 months in order for you to receive the full discount, otherwise you’ll end up paying a portion of the phone’s cost. The same applies if you cancel the service early.
Are there any limitations to the Verizon Unlimited service?
Yes. Like any such plan, Verizon’s Unlimited service also includes a number of restrictions — the biggest among these are:
- Full LTE speeds for the first 22 GB of data usage only, reduced data speeds and de-prioritization thereafter (carriers tend to say this throttling only occurs under unusually high network activity).
- 4G LTE data in Canada and Mexico applies to the first 500 MB per day only, after which it drops to 2G.
- The first 10 GB of tethered internet per month, per line runs at 4G LTE speeds and drops to 3G thereafter.
- If more than half of your talk, text or data usage comes from Mexico or Canada over a sixty-day period, use of those services may be “removed or limited.”
What does Verizon mean when it calls Unlimited an “introductory” plan?
This could be Verizon’s way of saying that the price may change, or features may be added or removed after its launch. Though none of Verizon’s plans, or any carrier’s for that matter, are set in stone of the next 100 years, the specific use of “introductory” in its press material does indicate that the terms may change in the near future. There’s no real way to tell which way this will land at the moment: I’ve reached out to Verizon for more details.
Update, 15.02.2017: In an email, a Verizon spokeswoman confirmed that, while the service may change in the future, users who sign up for the plan as it stands wouldn’t be affected by this.
“If we decide at some point down the road to change the plan, folks who have signed up for the current plan will be able to stay on that plan,” the spokeswoman said.
In other words, if you like the sound of the current offer, I’d invest in it sooner rather than later.
Who is eligible for Verizon Unlimited?
Both new and existing customers are eligible for Verizon Unlimited.
What is the Verizon Unlimited competition like?
T-Mobile has an unlimited plan for $70 per month, with $50 to add a second line and an extra $20 for each line after that. Unlike Verizon’s offer, T-Mobile’s prices also include tax.
Following the Verizon Unlimited announcement, T-Mobile fought back yesterday with improvements to its own service, offering HD video streaming at no extra cost (previously it was restricted to 480p) and 10 GB of high-speed mobile tethering, bringing these on par with Verizon’s offer.
T-Mo’s 4G LTE threshold also stands at 28 GB (compared to Verizon’s 23 GB) with 3G connectivity thereafter and the plan includes unlimited international data, though it tops out at 128 kb, which is a little more than double dial-up speeds.
Further, T-Mobile has temporarily reduced the price of its two-line plan from $120 to $100. The company is definitely showing some fighting spirit.
Sprint‘s unlimited plan, meanwhile, starts at $50 per month, or a five line data plan for $90 per month, with a 23 GB 4G data threshold. Video streaming there is also capped at 480p resolution unless you pay an additional $20 per month.
Does this mean Verizon’s “limited” plans are no longer available?
No, the Verizon S, M and L packages for those who don’t require unlimited data are still available.
When is Verizon Unlimited available?
Verizon Unlimited is available from February 13.
Hopefully, this has addressed the main questions regarding this service, but if you need to know anything else, get in touch in the comments or hit me up on Twitter (@scottadamgordon).
Check out the plan for yourself at the Verizon Wireless website.