Verizon has joined the ranks of mobile carriers shifting to tiered data plans for their smart phones and tablets. While the unlimited data caps were not proving to be an unsound decision economically at that point, the rising use of online video threatens to swamp carriers' current network capacity. As 4G deployment expands, network capacity will rise - but will it rise as fast as subscriber data demands?
While there is understandable uncertainty from users (who often aren't sure how much data they regularly download), the shift to tiered plans is unlikely to burden most subscribers - their current data use falls below the basic 2 Gb tier. Further, most smartphones and tablets also can access WiFi, and data accessed that way does not count towards the tier limit. Shifting from unlimited to use-based pricing is likely to depress data use (in the cellular system), as users start monitoring their data use until they have a better sense of their general levels of use, and see what it takes to pass that tier limit. Online use patterns, particularly those requiring large files, may shift to WiFi as long as it remains unmetered. Although most people do not completely understand how the tier system works and exactly how much use they are allotted, it is said that a hefty number of people have converted to AT&T, as its data plans generally cost less.
Regardless of if a consumer decided to go with AT&T or Verizon, their data would no longer be unlimited. The question is who has the better deal for what is being offered. The wireless providers are trying to make a rational decision on what is best for their business, so consumers will just have to learn to watch their data usage and cope accordingly by staying economically intelligent.
Source: Verizon's New Tiered Data Plans: What You Need to Know, PCMag