Verizon's new cheaper unlimited plan comes with some limits

You lose HD video streaming and roaming in Canada and Mexico, and your mobile hotspot slows down. There's a pricier plan if you want those perks.

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
3 min read
Watch this: Verizon redefines unlimited by adding limits

Verizon is taking the unlimited data battle straight to T-Mobile. 

The nation's largest wireless carrier by subscribers on Tuesday introduced new unlimited data plans to replace its original plan, which was priced at $80 for a single line or $180 for four lines. Now there's the "gounlimited" plan, which runs to $75 or $175, and "beyondunlimited," which costs $85 or $185. The new plans go into effect on Wednesday.

The plans further illustrate how the carriers are starting to slice up the once-simple concept of unlimited plans into multiple options. Both T-Mobile and AT&T offer two options when it comes to their unlimited plans, while Sprint undercuts them all with the cheapest alternative. 

Verizon is essentially splitting off many features of its original plan into a cheaper plan and one that is more expensive. T-Mobile, however, offers perks like roaming in Canada and Mexico to its unlimited data customers, while its pricier plan offers twice the data speed abroad and unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi through GoGo. AT&T's higher end plan comes with free access to HBO

"We'll help you choose the best plan for your specific needs because we know one size doesn't fit all," said Angie Klein, vice president of marketing strategy at Verizon. Klein wasn't coy about whom Verizon was targeting, telling T-Mobile customers that they have "another option when putting up with spotty coverage."

The difference between the two options lies in the little details. The "gounlimited" plan offers unlimited LTE data, but Verizon can slow you down anytime there's congestion around you. It also limits its streams to DVD quality and slows down its mobile hotspot to only 600 kilobits per second. Gone are free calls, text and data in Mexico and Canada.

The higher-end "beyondunlimited" plan has data that won't be slowed down unless you exceed 22 gigabytes in a month and are in a congested area, and offers an unlimited mobile hotspot, with LTE access for up to 15 gigabytes, and roaming in Canada and Mexico. The video is restricted to 720p video, which is what customers largely use. But it also means that phones that were previously streaming video at the higher resolution of 1080p will get throttled down. 

This will affect all existing customers too, suggesting this is a way to manage the traffic on their network. 

In addition, there's a "businessunlimited," which has the same kind of unlimited LTE data as the "beyondunlimited" plan, but offers DVD-quality video, unlimited mobile hotspot and roaming in Canada and Mexico for as low as $45 per line. 

Last, there's "prepaidunlimited," which is $80 for a single line for unlimited data that can be slowed at any time and has DVD-quality video and free calls to Canada and Mexico.

First published, Aug. 22, 3 a.m. PT.
Update, Aug. 23 at 10:48 a.m. PT: Adds further details on video throttling. 

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