AT&T and Verizon signal that unlimited data plans may come to an end someday

March 12, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

AT&T, Verizon

AT&T and Verizon signal that unlimited data plans may come to an end someday

The days of downloading web content and uploading videos from mobile devices to YouTube without caring about costs may eventually come to an end. That’s the lesson to gather based on recent comments from executives at both AT&T and Verizon.

Last week, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said that a transition to “variable pricing” was in the cards for his company. Stephenson suggested that “heavy-use consumers will pay more than the lower consumers,” meaning AT&T subscribers could eventually have to weigh whether or not they want to keep streaming Pandora or Slacker knowing that it would increase their monthly data charges.

Verizon CTO Anthony Melone expressed a similar sentiment to the Wall Street Journal, saying that “as much data as you can consume is the big issue that has to change.” Melone suggested that when Verizon begins offering 4G in mid-2011, unlimited data plans is something that the company may revisit and change.

Current subscribers with unlimited data plans on AT&T or Verizon don’t have to worry at the moment. Both companies are several months or a year away from changing their policy to get rid of unlimited data plans. Such a move would also constitute a change substantial enough for subscribers to break their contracts without penalty. However, this news is discouraging in light of the progress consumers expected as technology advanced. Rather than enjoy their new high-speed networks, AT&T and Verizon customers might have to start monitoring their data usage to ensure that their favorite mobile activities don’t lead to major bill increases.

LA Times Blog