Verizon released an easy-to-undersand unlimited data plan earlier this year, but get ready to be confused. The carrier has chopped its plans into three pieces tiers with differing prices.
But the really bad part? Verizon customers can't watch 1080p video on their shiny new phones anymore.
The three new plans are Go Unlimited ($75 for one line), Beyond Unlimited ($85 for the first line) and Business Unlimited (various prices).
But they're more than just names and prices. Each tier is slightly different in both the fine print and what they offer. In short, Go Unlimited is "kind of unlimited," and Beyond Unlimited is "slightly less limited than that other plan."
Go Unlimited includes unlimited LTE data, but with a giant catch: Verizon can throttle you whenever the network is congested. Most carriers only throttle you after you reach a certain data threshold, but Verizon's can be at any point in your billing cycle. Additionally, you only get 480p streaming, which Verizon tries to sugarcoat by using the term "DVD-quality streaming." You still get unlimited talk and text, and unlimited hotspot usage, though hotspot speeds are capped at 600 Kbps.
In the Beyond Unlimited plan, you get unlimited 4G LTE data, but you're only throttled once you exceed 22GB per billing cycle. You also get 720p video streaming, unlimited talk and text and calling, texting and data in both Canada and Mexico. The plan offers 15GB of LTE speeds via a mobile hotspot.
The business plan will depend highly on your needs, but will throttle both after 22GB and in times of congestion, and you only get 480p of streaming video.
Verizon insists that if you're on an unlimited plan, that won't change much. The big difference is that you can no longer stream at 1080p on Verizon Wireless phones anymore. Tablets, however, will go up to 1080p.
It's not a surprise to see this change. Verizon was testing throttling on Netflix and YouTube earlier this year, and third-party researchers have determined that unlimited plans were slowing down networks.
While this sucks for Verizon customers, competitors also throttle video. AT&T has similar practices, and T-Mobile requires a jump to its Plus plan for HD streaming. While Sprint still offers 1080p video, it polices music streaming and gaming like no other carrier, in a way that practically feels draconian.
Verizon claims this is all about network management, but these new plans wipe out what was widely considered the best unlimited plan on the market. It also brings up wide potential net neutrality questions (will it allow 1080p for its own content? Verizon just acquired Yahoo and AOL in its new company, Oath). But for now, mobile customers with high-res displays will have to deal with lesser quality video than ever before.