Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Verizon Gives Consumers More Options for Unlimited Data

Earlier this week, Verizon unveiled three new options for unlimited data plans: Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, and Business Unlimited. Go Unlimited starts at $75 per month and video is “DVD-quality” – standard-definition on phones (480p) and high-definition (HD) on tablets (720p). Beyond Unlimited starts at $85 per month and supports HD for phones and tablets (720p for phones and 1080p for tablets). Go Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited both provide monthly discounts for each additional line, but the Business Unlimited plan gives customers flat monthly rates. Verizon is also introducing an unlimited option for customers on prepaid plans. (See the chart below.)
Some people are criticizing Verizon for limiting the video quality in some of the new plans, but Verizon is upfront and transparent about the details of each offering. In response to pro-regulatory advocates who state that Verizon’s new plans violate net neutrality principles, Free State Foundation President Randolph May stated:
"Whether the new plans violate 'net neutrality' depends of course on who defines how strictly and in what context the plans are offered. Aside from definitional constructs, I'd say that this type of differentiation is good for consumers, considered overall, and what is expected in a competitive marketplace. This is also a good example of why the FTC should handle these issues that really relate to how plans are marketed to consumers."
Many pro-regulatory advocates also have criticized mobile providers for offering free data services instead of offering unlimited data plans. But as I stated in a February 2017 blog, it was not until FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ended the investigation of free data services and established an environment of permissionless innovation that mobile providers were willing to offer unlimited data plans. Of course, with permissionless innovation in a dynamically competitive marketplace, Verizon has tripled its consumer-friendly options for unlimited data plans.
In general, more options for unlimited data plans, as well as free data services, give consumers the freedom to choose the option which best fits their preferences and cost allocations. This type of marketplace freedom spurs consumer demand for online content and encourages additional innovation and investment in broadband networks.