Maybe we jumped the gun a bit with our earlier predictions, but it sounds like Verizon is steadily progressing toward a day when all its so-called “unlimited” data plans are a thing of the past. If you have been following wireless providers closely like we have it’s no surprise why Verizon and other carriers are moving toward plans that bill per byte, which would make things more expensive for those who use more data. On one hand that’s an entirely fair business proposition — after all we pay more if we use more of any other commodity, like milk, gasoline or fermented malt beverages. And some people may end up paying less as they purchase plans that more accurately reflect their online usage patterns.
The difference, of course, is that wireless bandwidth isn’t a zero-sum game, and if I use up a lot of bandwidth now that doesn’t mean you can’t use it later, which is part of the pricing equation for other commodities. There is also the very valid argument that says per-bit pricing discourages network use and innovation. And a big problem with pricing network access by the bit is that there really aren’t good methods yet for determining just how much bandwidth your application or communication connection is going to use, and carriers aren’t helping much in terms of providing accurate tools to help users do so.
While Verizon today seemed to make some noise about moving forward with the widely expected so-called family plan, which would let users purchase one big bucket of bandwidth for all their connected devices, don’t hold your breath for Verizon to move quickly into such radical new pricing plans. As the completely normal pricing plans for the company’s LTE rollout showed, Verizon seems to talk a long time about newfangled pricing ideas before actually implementing any. But if you want an unlimited data plan for your Verizon device, better snap one up now because like the Cubs’ chances of winning the World Series this year the clock is ticking. Cutting out unlimited plans is not a hard decision to make; leading the way with innovative new plans is.