Verizon to eliminate unlimited data, add shared data plans

In a move designed to force those using large amounts of data to pay for it, Verizon will eliminate unlimited data plans and replace them with a tiered system likely similar to competitor AT&T. There is a tradeoff, however: the carrier will begin to offer shared data plans.

Calling it a "logical progression," Verizon noted that while family plans have long been able to share minutes, each line with a smartphone was forced to pay for its own data plan. The new offering would allow for the pooling of data as well.

Verizon's move shouldn't come as much of a surprise: after AT&T did away with its own unlimited plans, the carrier warned that it planned to eventually eliminate its own unlimited option as well. In both cases, the carriers have repeatedly cited increased costs in managing these data networks as a reason for its moves.

Another method the carriers have employed is throttling, something T-Mobile does even though its plans are labled "unlimited," and Verizon said it would do the same to the top 5 percent of data users back in February.

Speaking to attendees of the Reuters Technology Summit, chief financial officer Fran Shammo declined to offer specifics on pricing or tiers. Verizon has previously said that it wasn't sure if it agreed with AT&T's strategy, so there is a good chance it will be different.

A good example of this could be found in Verizon's pricing for iPad data versus AT&T: in some ways, Verizon's plans are somewhat more expensive.

The change is sure to rile some, who have accused the carriers of bilking customers just at the time when larger amounts of mobile data are becoming necessary for today's mobile applications. However, the carriers maintain that the caps would only affect a very small number of their customers.

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