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Clarification: When Will You Be Forced Into Verizon’s New Shared Data Tiers?

Thoughout the last day, we noticed in the comments that there seems to be this belief that Verizon is going to forget that you signed a contract and simply force you immediately onto a shared data plan tier and off of your unlimited plan. That’s just not the case, at least it shouldn’t be, so we wanted to help clarify everything that went down yesterday, as best as we can. 

When VZW’s CFO Fran “ShamWow” Shammo said that they would migrate unlimited customers to shared data tiers, he said some key words along the way. The most important were “as you come through an upgrade cycle” and “upgrade in the future.” What he is saying, is that as you complete your current contract and then upgrade, that you won’t have the option to keep your current plan. From what we assume, Verizon is moving from a singular model of per line or per customer data plans to a shared or account structure, so while we don’t know the exact details of those plans, it sounds as if the only available plans in the future will be shared data. Whether you are by yourself or not, it will all just be one pool of data to pull from on your account. (That last part is me speculating of course.)

Back to this “upgrade cycle” stuff though. When Verizon launches their shared data tiers this summer, they aren’t going to force you immediately onto them. They, per your contract, have to wait until you upgrade to a new phone or renew to change your data or minute plan. While they plan to launch these new plans this summer, they won’t affect you until your current contract runs out. For some of you, especially those that just bought a new phone within the last few months and signed a new contract, won’t have to deal with shared data tiers for almost 2 years. (At least in theory and possibly, legally.)

Shammo even said during his speech on generating revenues through this model, that it is going to take quite some time before everyone is on shared data tiers. We assume he mentioned that because of all of the current contract-locked subscribers they have. Again, you have a contract that Verizon can’t simply void just to get you onto a new data structure. If they do, that usually means you have the option to opt-out and can then take your business elsewhere if you please.

*Note – We see that some of you are wondering if this only applies to 3G customers or if it will affect 4G LTE customers too. It is my understanding that this is for everyone. Shammo specifically called out 3G to 4G customers because they likely have a ton of customers in that situation. I see no reason why Verizon would keep 4G customers separate from this new data structure. Most 4G customers just simply do not have contracts that are ending any time soon.

The only tricky situation here is how they plan to deal with accounts that have multiple lines that have contracts ending at different times. Say you have a line that’s contract ends in September, but your main line’s doesn’t until next February. If you sign a new deal in September on that separate line, how will its data package work and how will it affect the rest of your lines? We should know shortly.

To recap, what we are trying to say is that shared data tiers shouldn’t be of concern until your current contract runs out. Verizon will launch them this summer, but as long as you are under 2-year agreement with them, you shouldn’t care until that agreement is over.

Now, keep in mind that this is all information based off of years of contracts and policy changes with Verizon. Big Red could always change it up, void all of your contracts, force you onto tiers, and create a giant whirlwind of destruction. That all just seems far too unlikely though.

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