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posted by on Wednesday January 11 2017, @09:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the unlimited-does-not-mean-unlimited dept.

Verizon Raises Upgrade Fee, Purges More Unlimited Data Users

Verizon has raised its phone upgrade fee to "cover increased cost" of providing a 4G LTE network, despite its latest earnings report showing decreases in wireless capital expenditures. Verizon later "clarified" that it was referring to "ongoing costs to maintain and enhance the network".

Additionally, Verizon Wireless customers with grandfathered-in unlimited data plans will be disconnected or forced to switch to a limited plan if they use more than 200 GB of data a month on average. The company stopped offering the unlimited data plans in 2011. During Verizon's previous purge, customers using more than 500 GB of data per month were targeted.

T-Mobile eliminates cheaper postpaid plans, sells "unlimited data" only

T-Mobile USA will stop selling its older and cheaper limited-data plans to postpaid customers, shifting entirely to its new "unlimited" data plans that impose bandwidth limits on video and tethering unless customers pay extra. To ease the transition, T-Mobile will offer bill credits of $10 a month to customers when they use less than 2GB per month.

T-Mobile began its shift to unlimited data plans in August with the introduction of T-Mobile One, which starts at $70 a month. While there are no data caps, customers have to pay a total of $95 a month to get high-definition video and mobile hotspot speeds of greater than 512kbps.

The carrier said in August that the unlimited plan would be "replacing all our rate plans," including its cheaper plans that cost $50 or $65 a month. Nonetheless, T-Mobile kept selling limited postpaid data plans to new customers for a few months, but yesterday CEO John Legere said that as of January 22, T-Mobile One will be the "only postpaid consumer plan we sell."

Updated: AT&T is raising the price of grandfathered unlimited plans again

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

Related Stories

FCC's Tom Wheeler Accuses AT&T and Verizon of Violating Possibly Short-Lived Net Neutrality Rules 8 comments

In his final days as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler has accused AT&T and Verizon Wireless of violating net neutrality rules with "zero-rating" policies:

Wheeler described his views in a letter to US senators who had expressed concern about the data cap exemptions, or "zero-rating." FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff today also issued a report concluding that AT&T and Verizon zero-rating programs are unfair to competitors. Both Wheeler's letter and the staff report can be read in full here.

The main issue is that AT&T and Verizon allow their own video services (DirecTV and Go90, respectively) to stream on their mobile networks without counting against customers' data caps, while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions. The FCC also examined T-Mobile USA's zero-rating program but found that it poses no competitive harms because T-Mobile offers data cap exemptions to third parties free of charge. T-Mobile also "provides little streaming video programming of its own," giving it less incentive to disadvantage video companies that need to use the T-Mobile network, the FCC said.

Also at TechCrunch, Washington Post, CNET, and The Hill.

Original Submission

Verizon Wireless Divides Unlimited Plan Into Three Worse Options 38 comments

Verizon is making some changes to its unlimited data plan:

Well, now we know why Verizon Wireless was "testing" reduced Netflix streaming speeds last month. Today the biggest US carrier announced that its existing unlimited data plan is being divided into three new options: Go Unlimited (starting at $75 for a single line), Beyond Unlimited ($85 for first line), and Business Unlimited. Unlike the relatively straightforward unlimited plan that Verizon surprised customers with in February, these new monthly plans are chock-full of fine print and caveats. And in a move sure to anger net neutrality advocates, the regular "Go Unlimited" plan throttles all smartphone video streaming to 480p / DVD-quality. The new plans go into effect beginning tomorrow, August 23rd, so this change is happening fast. Existing postpaid customers can keep their current plan, but some things will change even for them.

Also at Engadget, BGR, and Tom's Guide.

Previously: T-Mobile and Verizon Mobile Plans Change; Probably Not Better for Consumers

Original Submission

T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Called Off After Months of Talks 10 comments

T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers respectively, have called off merger talks, although they have left the door open in a joint statement:

Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc said on Saturday they have called off merger talks to create a stronger U.S. wireless company to rival market leaders, leaving No. 4 provider Sprint to engineer a turnaround on its own.

The announcement marks the latest failed attempt to combine the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers, as Sprint parent SoftBank Group Corp and T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG, show unwillingness to part with too much of their prized U.S. telecom assets. A combined company would have had more than 130 million U.S. subscribers, behind Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

The failed merger could also help keep wireless prices low as all four providers have been heavily discounting their cellphone plans in a battle for consumers. "Consumers are better off without the merger because Sprint and T-Mobile will continue to compete fiercely for budget-conscious customers," said Erik Gordon, a Ross School of Business professor at the University of Michigan.

The companies' unusual step of making a joint announcement on the canceled negotiations could indicate they still recognize the merits of a merger, keeping the door open for potential future talks.

Also at Bloomberg, NYT, and Ars Technica.

Previously: Sprint: Purchase of T-Mobile Promotes Competition
Inside the Plan to Pull Sprint Out of its Death Spiral

Related: Sprint the Only US Telecomm to Challenge NSA
T-Mobile and Verizon Mobile Plans Change; Probably Not Better for Consumers
Are True Burner Phones Now Impossible in the USA?
T-Mobile's New 600 MHz Network Rollout Begins This Summer
Verizon Wireless Divides Unlimited Plan Into Three Worse Options

Original Submission

Big Three Carriers Pay $10M to Settle Claims of False “Unlimited” Advertising 46 comments

T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T will pay a combined $10.2 million in a settlement with US states that alleged the carriers falsely advertised wireless plans as "unlimited" and phones as "free." The deal was announced yesterday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"A multistate investigation found that the companies made false claims in advertisements in New York and across the nation, including misrepresentations about 'unlimited' data plans that were in fact limited and had reduced quality and speed after a certain limit was reached by the user," the announcement said.

T-Mobile and Verizon agreed to pay $4.1 million each while AT&T agreed to pay a little over $2 million. The settlement includes AT&T subsidiary Cricket Wireless and Verizon subsidiary TracFone.
The carriers denied any illegal conduct despite agreeing to the settlement. In addition to payments to each state, the carriers agreed to changes in their advertising practices. It's unclear whether consumers will get any refunds out of the settlement, however.
The three carriers agreed that all advertisements to consumers must be "truthful, accurate and non-misleading." They also agreed to the following changes, the NY attorney general's office said:

  • "Unlimited" mobile data plans can only be marketed if there are no limits on the quantity of data allowed during a billing cycle.
  • Offers to pay for consumers to switch to a different wireless carrier must clearly disclose how much a consumer will be paid, how consumers will be paid, when consumers can expect payment, and any additional requirements consumers have to meet to get paid.
  • Offers of "free" wireless devices or services must clearly state everything a consumer must do to receive the "free" devices or services.
  • Offers to lease wireless devices must clearly state that the consumer will be entering into a lease agreement.
  • All "savings" claims must have a reasonable basis. If a wireless carrier claims that consumers will save using its services compared to another wireless carrier, the claim must be based on similar goods or services or differences must be clearly explained to the consumer.

The advertising restrictions are to be in place for five years.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @09:47AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @09:47AM (#452441)

    I'm not a gangster tonight
    Don't want to be a bad guy
    I'm just a loner baby
    And now you're gotten in my way
    I can't decide
    Whether you should live or die

    Well now, I have a couple of unpaid SIM cards, and I have a sudden urge to stream ten hours of paint drying.

    Let me see which unSIM should I use, the T-Mobile unSIM or the Verizon unSIM.

    Makes no difference to me.

    Having no data plan gives me unlimited data with either one.

    So what if the carriers try to upsell me a plan, I ignore the upsell, and I download 10GB of video for free instead.

    Now that's what I call the unplan.

    Bypassing upsell servers for free data is so much more fun than phone phreaking ever was.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @10:54AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @10:54AM (#452453)

      http:/ /

      That's the way t-mo rolls, blunt, not classy.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday January 11 2017, @01:43PM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday January 11 2017, @01:43PM (#452484)

    A few weeks ago I finally found a way to move the needle on my data plan, which was to stream audio during my commute because I was temporarily caught up on podcasts and audiobooks.

    I'm impressed at whoever streamed 500 gigs of ... something. I thought burning half a gig a week on music was excessive, but a thousand times that is quite impressive.

    Streaming is VERY expensive.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @03:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @03:44PM (#452536)

      all that to unicast something to you as a stream, too.

      i personally have had no problem keeping a small mp3 player with a memory card I've upgraded over the years... and hooking it into the car audio system in some way, which has changed over the years as well. my car at the moment has a USB connection and can read files right off a USB stick. provided I arrange the folder/files in a fashion the car radio system understands, I can get all the typical media tags displayed as usual.

      I appreciate being able to stream music or to turn on the radio, but the costs involved to stream so much data when I've got copies of the same music sitting on memory chips and on disk drives and on cassettes and CDs and records and...

      it has just seemed cheaper, if not as cool, to conserve my phone's battery life and just play music from local content. The content may be memory chip that contains all of the music I've ever had in my entire life with room to double it, but it still seems less inconvenient to maintain than paying a subscription fee to something and having to pay for an internet connection and data usage fees on top of that while allowing for my usage patterns to get tracked and resold when the old way of changing tracks didn't result in personalized marketing...

      seems to be the future is too expensive. I guess in the future cars that drive themselves, no one will be allowed to bring mix tapes along because of business reasons. maybe they will blame terrorist viruses for not allowing content to be shared between people, but not mention that when your preferences are sold amongst business partners.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @02:29PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @02:29PM (#452503)

    You can pry my $30/mo prepaid plan from my cold dead hands. $30/mo for 5GB LTE, Unlimited text. 100min (not even used with VOIP), unrestricted video with option to use binge-on if I want, and tethering. I haven't found anything else even close to tempting me to move to something else. Google Fi comes close, but would still increase my costs.

    • (Score: 1) by Jtmach on Wednesday January 11 2017, @03:32PM

      by Jtmach (1481) on Wednesday January 11 2017, @03:32PM (#452527)

      I've been on this plan for a couple years now too. It really is about the best that can be found, if you don't make calls very often.

      It seems like the cell service providers are going to be the next version of cable providers. They'll just keep ramming more expensive plans down peoples throats until there's a major backlash.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @11:53PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11 2017, @11:53PM (#452775)

        Had it too, by far the best plan out there. Dropped it due to a move outside of T-Mobile territory. Toward the end of my service with them however, I did notice that using Firefox on Android would cause T-Mobile content sniffers to get upset and drop me at a gated-T-Mobile landing page, no matter where I wanted to browse to.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:07AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:07AM (#452865)

    "cover increased cost"

    To cover the ancient 10+ year old computers that run that system?