Sorry, Verizon customers, no unlimited data for you

"At the end of the day, people don't need unlimited plans," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo says.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read

Verizon once again slammed the door shut on the idea of unlimited data.

"At the end of the day, people don't need unlimited plans," Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said at an investor conference Thursday.

If you listen to Shammo regularly, you'll know this isn't a new sentiment. But Verizon's rivals have put a renewed emphasis on unlimited data that could have prompted him to change his tune.


T-Mobile and Sprint have introduced cheaper unlimited data plans -- in exchange for slowing the connection for lower-resolution video -- and AT&T has been trumpeting its own unlimited data bundle with DirecTV video service. The push to unlimited data marks a reversal of the last few years of rhetoric about the costs of delivering service.

For Verizon, that remains the biggest argument against unlimited. "You cannot make money on an unlimited video world," he said.

Shammo slammed the asterisk in its competitors' way of doing business, noting that with Verizon's plans, you can tether other devices to your phone and enjoy high-speed data without artificial throttling. The newly introduced T-Mobile One plan requires an extra charge for high-resolution video and the ability to tether at high speeds. (You're only able to tether at 512 kilobits per second, far slower than the standard 4G connection.)

"We believe it's more customer-friendly," Shammo said about the simplicity its plans.

AT&T offers an unlimited plan to customers who also subscribe to DirecTV video, and CEO Randall Stephenson said Wednesday at the same Goldman Sachs investor conference that 5 million customers have signed up for the plan.

Another reason why Shammo is so against unlimited: Heavy users who gravitate toward those plans "tend to be abusive," overloading the network and affecting the experience of those around them.

Still, Shammo stopped short of barricading its closed door.

"We look at our competitors closely," he said. "We'll respond when needed."

Downplaying the iPhone

While T-Mobile and Sprint tout record iPhone sales, Shammo was a bit more conservative. He believes that ultimately, the level of iPhone sales this year will be equal to those of 2015 and won't see the blockbuster spike the industry got in 2014 when the iPhone 6 debuted.

Verizon has seen a bump, but Shammo attributed this to the company's "free" iPhone promotion. All of the carriers offered the ability for customers to trade in their old iPhone for a new iPhone 7, stimulating early demand.

But the promotions are likely to end soon, and Shammo said he's keen to see how sales fare after that. He said the offer of free iPhones would have little financial impact on the company.

"It's just another promotion," he said.