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Verizon says unlimited data is unnecessary

Verizon is the best carrier in the land, with Big Red making a clean sweep in the latest RootMetrics Score card in six categories and winning overall for the last six years between it and its US carrier rivals in the same report. At the same time, however, Verizon has been heavily criticized for eliminating unlimited data from its internet offerings, giving customers tiered choices (2GB, 3GB, 4GB, 6GB, 8GB, 10GB, etc.) instead. At an investor conference yesterday, Verizon Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Fran Shammo said that “At the end of the day, people don’t need unlimited plans.” Shammo also went on to say that “You cannot make money on an unlimited video world,” inferring that a number of consumers want unlimited data to watch videos (which is the same thing I can attest to from talks with T-Mobile consumers online).

Some journalists have taken this story and painted Verizon and Shammo in a negative light, but I disagree. I believe that, true to what Shammo has said, unlimited data is unnecessary and is impossible and unfeasible for both consumers and Verizon itself.

Fellow journalists are making unlimited data out to be the gold standard of what phone internet is all about, but it’s only ideal for those who 1) experience 4G at every moment of the month and 2) live in an area where 4G LTE cellular data reception is strong. Unfortunately, most unlimited data plans are only unlimited with speed throttling from 4G to 2G speeds after a certain amount of data (say, 5GB or 10GB) and only work for those who live in metro or urban areas. If you live in rural areas where 4G is hard to detect, you wouldn’t experience 4G data anyway.

With that said, tiered data plans work for everyone because they give you enough of a selection between what you can afford and what you want, and allow consumers who are truly data-hungry to rely on home Wi-Fi plans. For example, WiFi plans in my area promise 20Mbps speeds (which is half of what I once experienced on Verizon’s network when I lived in a more suburban location) for about $45 or so a month. That’s unlimited data for me, since there’s no limit to the amount of internet I use on a regular basis. I watch Netflix, Hulu, play internet games, and read the internet for hours on end as part of my job as a journalist – and I pay the exact same thing each month (no more, no less). I haven’t had one hiccup in my work life and business pursuits, and home internet helps me achieve that.

Additionally, Verizon and I have an agreement where I save $25 a month on each phone that I own with Big Red. Since I have 5 phones in my name with Big Red, I save $125 a month on my phone bill. I own 7 lines with Verizon (5 smartphones, 2 smartwatches), so I’m unafraid of paying a great price for a great experience. Though Verizon doesn’t have perfect coverage in my new location, I see little reason to leave them because T-Mobile and AT&T aren’t available in my area. Only Verizon and regional carrier US Cellular are — and regional carriers come with rules, regulations, and restrictions of their own. In my current setup, I’m perfectly happy with having those phone discounts over more, unlimited data that I can’t access.

Nothing in life is perfect, but I think calling for unlimited data is like chasing the wind. At some point, you have to accept the fleeting, the elusive, and move on with what life brings. Home WiFi does bring unlimited data, and for now, that’s all that the majority of us really need, anyway.

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