We all knew it was coming, but DroidLife portends the nature of the beast. As the story goes, Verizon will introduce tiered data on July 7th, presumably to consummate that freedom-loving Fourth of July workweek with a ball-and-chain around your device. The plans, according to DroidLife, will be $30/month for 2GB of data, $50/month for 5GB of data, or $80/month for 10GB of data. If you want tethering, that will run you an extra $20/month and get you an extra 2GB. And that’s where things start to get ugly…
Let’s set aside, just for a second, that tethering charges on a capped data plan is beyond absurd. On an unlimited plan, I kind of get it. You’re going to use more data if both your phone and your laptop are using the connection than just your phone, so charging more makes a certain sense. It kinda blows, but it makes sense. But if you’re allotted 2GB of data a month, and you use it all up, it doesn’t really matter what device received the data, you’re paying overages. In fact, allowing tethering seems like a win. Hell, you could charge a $10/GB overage and end up at basically the exact same prices. But hey, no. We’re setting that aside, right?
Well, consider this. If you decide you want tethering (and you’re going to be an honest person and pay for it, instead of rooting/jailbreaking and getting it for free), you can choose to pay $50 for 4GB of data and a tethering plan. Meanwhile, on the non-tethering side of the pool, you can get pay that exact same $50, but get 5GB of data. From a certain perspective (and that would be the perspective of the consumer), you’re getting shafted for choosing to tether your device.
Now, of course Verizon doesn’t see it this way. Verizon sees the $50/4GB/tethering plan as a mere upgrade to the $30/2GB/non-tethering plan, yet the bitterness remains. In fact, it almost gives incentives to a savvy user to forgo the tethering option entirely, get the 5GB plan and root/jailbreak. The logic that permits a plan like this is perplexing at best.
For what it’s worth, it’s only the 5GB area that suffers this conundrum. Compare any of the other pricing plans and you’ll see a gradual progression: more money equals more data, tethering or no. The $70/7GB/tethering plan is cheaper and provides less data than the $80/10GB/non-tethering plan, which in turn is cheaper and provides less data than the $100/12GB/tethering plan. It’s obnoxious in that they charge for tethering at all, however, the upwards progression at least makes sense.
What’s worst of all, though, is just how insanely high some of these prices are getting. In case you were wondering, this is the culmination of the data crunch the carriers have been feeling for the last few years, and it’s come time for the consumer to pay the piper (or at least that’s how they see it). No more free rides! And honestly, Verizon, I empathize with you. I really do. I can’t imagine that carrying the load of all these new fancy smartphones is easy, especially when Google lets every single one of those fancy Droid devices you’ve been pushing ping their respective servers every two seconds to run up data usage. I get it. It’s tough.
However, that’s not an excuse to nickel-and-dime people. I currently have a Xoom tablet with you guys. I never had the choice for unlimited data, and surprisingly, I’ve been getting by. I have a modest plan, and I do my best to keep myself on WiFi, and it sucks compared to unlimited data on Sprint, but I do it. I have voluntarily chosen to give you money, money I don’t need to give you, so that I can get service that I’m (apparently) OK with getting capped. Don’t try to fuck over your customers by needlessly charging for a service that doesn’t, in any way, cost you any more than you’re already charging for. If I get a 5GB plan and I go over because I tethered to my laptop and streamed Netflix for 8 hours, you have overage costs to cover that. Overage charges that are in almost all cases exactly equal to the plan pricing as-is. This is unnecessary and dumb.