Just three months after launch, Karma is pulling the plug on Neverstop, its first subscription data plan. Neverstop offered unlimited data for the Karma Go hotspot at capped speeds and with limitations on how many devices could be connected to the hotspot at the same time. Karma adjusted the plan last month to severely throttle users that went over 15GB of data in a month in an effort to prevent unintended use cases, such as large data backups or using the service as a home internet connection.
Now the company is replacing Neverstop with a new tiered subscription plan called Pulse. It offers options for 5GB, 10GB, and 20GB of data per month. Pulse does not have any speed caps and allows up to eight devices to be connected to the Go simultaneously. It is priced at $40, $75, and $140 per month for the three tiers, with overages running $15 per gigabyte. Customers will have the option to purchase more data should they hit their cap, or they can switch up to a larger tier temporarily or permanently. Karma says it will not automatically charge overage fees, but only if the customer elects for them. If a customer does not use the full overage gigabyte, they will receive credit back for the unused data on their next month's bill. (This only applies to overages; unused portions of the standard data allotments will not be credited back.)
Karma CEO Steven Van Wel says the new plan provides "a model that can be sustained, while removing the limitations of Neverstop," namely, the speed and device restrictions. He also notes that the new plan gives customers more pricing options compared to the flat $50 per month fee with Neverstop, along with the option to still have high-speed service should they go over their monthly allotment. It gives the company more control to adjust things based on how it sees customers using the service as well, providing options to add more tiers if necessary. Customers can also earn $1 bill credit each time they share their data connection with another person.
Pulse is a more traditional and more realistic option than Neverstop
Van Wel says that the company came to the realization that Neverstop was unsustainable after observing a month of customer usage following January's adjustments. Even with the restrictive throttling, half of Neverstop customers reached the 15GB cap before the end of their billing cycle, and there was no way for them to easily continue high-speed service, whether by changing plans or paying overage fees. Current Neverstop customers will be able to use the service through the end of their current billing cycle, after which they will be transferred to the 5GB Pulse plan. The company will also still offer its pay-as-you-go data plans.
It's hard not to see this as a bit of a defeat for Karma, which originally launched Neverstop with the lofty goal of providing a "worry-free" experience, where people never had to think about how much data they were consuming in a month. The new Pulse plans are largely identical to the data plans from any other carrier (though they do not have any contracts and can be canceled or changed at will), complete with data caps and overage fees. It seems like the dream of a truly worry free wireless data plan is still a few years away.