We knew it was coming. We've known for a while, in fact. But as summer draws near, reality is starting to set in: unlimited data is coming to an end on Verizon. For real. Here's what you need to know (based on what we know): Verizon's CFO told Reuters at a tech conference that tiered data will be implemented this summer, and that all unlimited data options will be eliminated. There was also a suggestion that family plans may (eventually - not with the launch of tiers) get data pooled in a fashion similar to minutes - eliminating the need for individual data plans.

We don't know how the tiers will be implemented, but expect something at least remotely similar to what AT&T offers (2GB at $25/month, 4GB at $45, $10/GB overage). Will there be an LTE 4G "premium" (ala Sprint)? Hard to say. Verizon has lured customers into buying the carrier's first 4G devices (the Thunderbolt, Charge, and soon, the Revolution) with the offer of unlimited 4G data for a paltry $30 per month. That isn't shabby - especially considering the blazing speeds which Verizon's LTE network is capable of.

But that's all going to change - probably just in the nick of time for the release of the carrier's flagship 4G monster-handset: the Motorola DROID Bionic, which will probably have more advertising fanfare than any phone preceding it.

Considering 4G LTE is supposedly cheaper to operate per byte of data transferred than CDMA or HSPA, Verizon may not differentiate between 3G and 4G data plans in terms of pricing. That would be nice of them. But it remains to be seen just what Verizon will do, as it's hard to argue that Big Red's 4G network is expanding more rapidly than any of the competition.

Verizon customers already pay some of the highest rates in the country for the carrier's unmatched 3G and voice coverage, and the allure of what will (likely) become the largest 4G network in the nation may have Verizon feeling confident enough to charge such a premium.

Still, the news of the T-Mobile / AT&T deal has to be keeping Verizon on its toes - the combined force of those carriers could lead to an even more rapid LTE deployment than we've seen with Verizon so far.

As a reminder, Verizon may force you into a new contract if you decide to upgrade your phone, or your contract expires (no, upgrading does not automatically extend your contract - grandfathering is sheerly a customer retention measure), and with major data plan changes like this, individual customers might be forced to face the music and finally give up their ancient unlimited plans to get their hands on fresh hardware. We'll see in the coming months.

Reuters via BGR

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Doug

    I will so bail if I have to pay for a tiered data plan. It's just not worth it. Sprint here I come.

  • http://silverfang77.tumblr.com Silver Fang

    Tiered data sucks. What a way to shaft the consumer!

  • Randy A

    I will be gone in an instant if Sprint still has unlimited data plans. That is, if VZW takes away my unlimited data plan.

  • Jacob

    I'll just buy my hardware off contract and keep my data.

    • sreegs

      good luck getting it activated! also they may force you to change your plan once your contract ends. it really depends on how big of an asshole verizon decides to be

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      I've been wondering for a long times about buying your own phone -- is there any secret non-subsidiary plan that charges less? I've looked around, and as far as I can tell, whether you bring your own phone or not (if Verizon lets you do that at all), you are going to pay exactly the same monthly fee. So, what's the benefit of owning my phone? It's not like I could take my phone and switch to another carrier -- if I bought a phone for the Verizon network, no other carriers would activate it. If that's the case, why should I spend a couple hundred dollars just to get the option of abandoning my plan at any time?

  • L Boogie

    Fuck that garbage, bad enough one is already overpaying on the unlimited plan now, screw the customer base some more huh? Evo 3D & or Galaxy S 2 on Sprint with the most reasonable unlimited plan (sorry T-Mobile) here I come

    • L Boogie

      Assuming Sprint doesn't decide to apeshit with their plans as well or if the buyout merger fails, Sensation or "Hercules" on T-Mobile, I'm on my way....btw, nevermind the sorry crack t-mobile

      • Don Epic 4g

        sprint just announced tired data plans for data cards.... cellphone may be next./....

  • Thanatos

    I just got a pre-approved Sprint letter in the mail today and now I'm seriously thinking about going over to them. I've still got an old cheap Alltel call and data package, so if I have to upgrade to an expensive assed Verizon tiered package then it is more than what I am going to pay!!!

  • jbonics

    If they try to play me like this. I'm out. Sprint or many metro PCS. Verizon is 6 months late on getting all there hardware anyway. By the time they get a dual core there will tegra3 at Sprint. Worthless

    • L Boogie

      You're right, amazing how Verizon shows up late to the hardware party and launching hot new ones(t-bolt, charge) is harder than Chinese algebra for them.... go figure

  • chuckdroid

    verizon dual core out now

  • Kev

    I had Sprint for about 6 years before coming to Verizon (my gf was already w/Verizon so we did a fam plan) and had very few problems with coverage. Equipment was always solid (Samsung and Sanyo). So, go ahead, Verizon; start messin' around. I'll take myself, my gf, and all my friends and family with me, right back over to Sprint. Shoulda axed somebody XD

  • ChrisAlb

    Been a Verizon customer for 16 years but their changes will end that. Not sure where I will go but as a matter of priniciple I will switch.

  • guest

    Dang!!!!! we're trap no matter where we go if one carrier starts to cap data plans everybody follows, sure u can go with sprint, but they suck in every single way, I've been there before, I know sprint,

  • AnthAllOver

    So will this affect us immediately if we already have an unlimited data plan? Or will it not take into effect until we upgrade?

  • http://Na Android…..

    Sprint will Cap their data too the more customers that bail to them the more expensive it gets for sprint on their network which equals data caps to help pay for it.

  • livingny

    Well hopefully they'll honor the contracts we already have. Before making the change because I don't need all that but HAD to buy a data plan with this phone.

  • livingny

    I'm stick no matter what, Verizon is the only reliable service in NY tried all the others, don't like paying for services I'm not getting, happened with ALL the other services.