The Thunderbolt has arrived – will lightning only strike once for extending your unlimited data plan beyond this Summer?
March 17, 2011 Leave a comment
Today marks the release of the much-anticipated HTC Thunderbolt from Verizon. So why was the Thunderbolt such an anticipated device? Besides having a cool name, the reason is because it is the first 4G (or LTE…however you prefer to call the next generation network) phone on the Verizon network. While it is the first phone on 4G, many are asking should I go out and buy one, or a more common question asked specifically to me is, will I go out and buy one?
If you would have asked me a couple of months ago, I would have said, no, I’m waiting, simply because there are a bunch of other 4G phones on the horizon, and I am also curious what the iPhone 5 will have in store (despite not likely being on Verizon until next year..imo). Of course, that is if you asked me a few months (even weeks) ago. I have since started to think (I do this every so often) and it hit me how well Verizon has played its hand these past few months…that’s assuming my assumptions here are accurate.
Let’s look at some of the facts so far:
- Verizon just released the most popular smartphone ever on their 3G network, the iPhone, locking people into a contract for at least the next year (likely 2 yrs).
- Verizon has stated that the unlimited data plans will be going away, likely sometime this Summer.
- Your rate is usually locked in, at least until the end of your plan term, or you make changes to your services.
If Verizon starts to not offer unlimited data plans beginning this Summer, if you are already locked into the unlimited plan, you will likely be grandfathered in and able to stick with unlimited, at least until your contract is up for renewal or until you make a service change (there is a gray area here, so these are the assumptions). But, if you are one of the people who makes the change from 3G to 4G after the unlimited is phased out, you will likely be in the position where you have to take one of the new “limited” data plans.
So while waiting for the other phones could be a good thing, it could also work against you because making the service change from 3G to 4G, later this year, could force your hand in forfeiting your unlimited plan for one of the new limited data plans (depending when Verizon makes the change from unlimited to limited only plans).
Also, all the people who signed up and got an iPhone are trapped in the 3G world until their contract expires; unless, they go out and buy a new 4G phone at full cost. By the time the iPhone users are up for renewal, I assume most of the new phones will be on the 4G network, so even if you are grandfathered on the 3G network, you are going to eventually have to make the change to 4G, hence likely going to lose the ability to stay on the old unlimited plan.
The best case scenario than is to be one of the first in on the 4G network before anything is changed. Once on the 4G plan, as long as you stay with 4G and don’t swap out onto a different data plan (ie. Blackberry Corporate vs. Smartphone), you should be grandfathered into the plan. Even if your contract expires, I wonder if you would still have the ability to keep the unlimited…hmm?
Remember, a lot is assumed here based on what has transpired for me in the past with Verizon. I don’t work for Verizon, nor has anyone from Verizon confirmed any of these assumptions to me. I am clearly speculating, based on what I have seen from being a Verizon customer the past 10+ years. I can tell you I ran into a similar situation with the mobile hotspot/tethering service and it wasn’t until I let my Blackberry go and hooked up my Droid that they changed my tethering plan from the, no longer offered, $15/unlimited, to the new $20/2G plan. If I would have kept the Blackberry, I would have continued to enjoy the $15/unlimited tether option, since I was grandfathered into that service option.
For all we know, Verizon could just make everyone change their data plans; regardless of when your contract expires, or phase people out based on some internal algorithm. The data plans are just considered an added service, taken on a month to month basis, so they likely have these options without going against your contract. On the other hand, they could just grandfather all loyal customers into unlimited, although this is very unlikely – probably more likely they just keep the unlimited plans and just raise the price. What I do know, is I would rather take my chances now and move to a 4G unlimited plan with the chance of being grandfathered in, rather than take that chance later, knowing they will more than likely take away my unlimited once I change over.
It might be time to get out the lighting rod, and get into some of this thunder, before it’s too late! Thunder….Thunder…Thunderbolt…Hoooo! (yes, I had to say it…I grew up in the 80s, I couldn’t let it go…snarf…snarf..snarf…okay, I’m done)