Verizon Wireless is going through with its pledge to end unlimited data plans.
As of tomorrow, new Verizon Wireless customers will not be able to sign up for unlimited data plans and will have to choose from three tiered options: $30 for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB. Customers who exceed their plan's limit will be charged $10 for every gigabyte over their monthly allotment.
Company spokeswoman Brenda Raney, who confirmed the pricing change, said existing customers will be able to keep their unlimited data plans even if they move to a new smartphone. Current feature phone customers who upgrade to a smartphone will not be able to sign up for unlimited service and will have to pick from one of the tiered plans.
Verizon had previously said it would stop offering unlimited data plans this summer.
Raney denied that the change in pricing was introduced to deter data hogs from clogging up Verizon's network but conceded that the proliferation of wireless devices played a factor in the company's decision.
"The technology has changed, and as we prepare for a future where everything we do will be wireless, we put the tools in now so customers can understand their wireless use, how they manage their use and how much they want to pay for it," Raney said, adding that the vast majority of Verizon's customers use just 2 GB or less per month. "When 95 percent are just using 2 GB, why should they offset the cost of someone who's using 80 GB?"
In conjunction with the new plans, Verizon will begin sending automatic text message notifications to customers when they reach 50 percent, 75 percent, 90 percent, 100 percent and 110 percent of their monthly limit. The company also will allow customers to change their data plan without having to extend their contract.
In addition, the operator will begin charging $30 per month for unlimited use of the mobile hotspot feature on LTE smartphones like the Droid Charge, which has been offered for free as part of a limited-time promotion. New customers will pay $20 per month for 2 GB of data used for a mobile hotspot.
Raney said the hotspot plans are a "precursor" to bucket plans for mobile data, comparable to Verizon's shared plans for voice minutes. Raney shied away from saying when Verizon would begin offering shared data plans but said "it's still on the table. It's something we're considering, but it's not what we're introducing tomorrow."
Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said at an investor conference in May that the company was considering bucket plans for data.
Verizon's decision to ditch its unlimited plans leaves Sprint as the last top-tier operator in the country to offer all-you-can-eat data to its customers. AT&T stopped offering unlimited data last summer, and T-Mobile USA slows down user's speeds once they exceed their monthly limit.
Sprint has said its unlimited data plans still play an important role in attracting new subscribers, but it has not taken tiered pricing off the table.