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Verizon To Introduce Unlimited Wireless Data Plan

Verizon introduced an unlimited data plan for the first time since 2011. The nation’s largest wireless provider announced the move away from monthly data allowances on a TV advertisement during Sunday’s Grammy Awards broadcast.

The plan, starting at $80 per month, brings Verizon up to speed with competitors that already had unlimited data offerings, like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. “Verizon was sitting out there as the only one that didn’t have an offering,” said senior equity research analyst David Heger.

Sprint and T-Mobile released marginally cheaper unlimited plans last summer, which helped bring in millions of new customers. According to Verizon’s wireless division president Ronan Dunne, the company came out with the unlimited data plan because its network is capable of handling the influx of customers, and  “fundamentally want you to have more choice.” Previously, the company said it had no interest in pursuing an unlimited plan, but the curbed growth of wireless customers at the end of last year may have motivated the change in approach.

The new plan, available since Monday, allows customers to talk, text, and use data as much as they like per line, although, like competing plans, it has a “soft cap” of 22 GB per month. After this much data has been used, download rates could be slowed and usage prioritized for overall network efficiencies. Unlike Sprint and T-Mobile, however, Sprint said it would not downgrade the streaming video quality for users on the unlimited plan.

John Legere, T-Mobile CEO, was quick to tweet a response to Verizon’s plan: “No shock that @verizon finally decided to show up. And I don’t blame them for caving. What choice did they have?” Legere kicked off the move toward unlimited data plans in the industry, which he suggests motivated Verizon’s plan in the beginning of his Feb. 13 Twitter thread.

Legere continued to ridicule Verizon’s announcement in his Twitter thread before making a plan announcement of his own. “Starting Fri, #TMobileONE price includes HD video & 10GB high speed hotspot data– all at no extra charge. AND taxes & fees are included!”

Verizon contradicted analyst predictions by offering the unlimited plan, since the carrier has relatively less available spectrum per subscriber than smaller carriers. Dunne assures that the carrier’s additional advanced equipment can handle the traffic, “We’ve built our network so we can manage all the activity customers undertake.”

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