The days of unlimited data plans may soon be coming to an end. New comments from Verizon indicate the carrier will introduce tiered data pricing (similar to the moves made by AT&T earlier this month) when they move to 4G LTE later this year.
Verizon has been testing LTE in Boston plus several other markets and hopes to have 100 million people covered by the end of 2010. The carrier should offer several LTE modems this year and launch a LTE handset in 2011. Verizon maintains that their LTE network will be able to produce average download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2-5 Mbps.
The carrier expects an “explosions in data traffic” over wireless networks as more customers move to smartphones. Only 17 percent of Verizon customers currently use a smartphone, but that number is expected to increase to 70 to 80 percent “over time”. Current Verizon smartphone customers are using up 600 to 800 megabytes of data per month and that is expected to grow with the increased bandwidth that LTE offers and new smartphone hardware features like front-facing cameras.
“We will probably need to change the design of our pricing where it will not be totally unlimited, flat rate.”John KillianCFO Verizon
Sprint is the only carrier to offer truly unlimited data with the EVO 4G and its required $10 premium data add-on, while T-Mobile has eliminated overage charges for unlimited data plans and throttles speeds when customers surpass 5 GB.