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Verizon overhauls its ‘unlimited’ offerings with four new plans and $5 price cuts

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Verizon is still completely unaware of what ‘unlimited’ means

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Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

Verizon has (rather confusingly) offered three different types of “unlimited” data plans for the past two years, but today, the carrier is looking to clear up that confusion by replacing them with four unlimited plans. Sorry, did I say “clear up”? I meant “make everything even more confusing.”

The changes aren’t that sweeping: there are $5 price cuts across the board; new names for two of the old plans; and the third plan is now split into two similar options that allow people to choose which perks they’d like, making the whole system somewhat baffling from the outside.

At the top of the list is the new “Get More Unlimited” plan, which starts at $90 per month for a single line (with autopay enabled and not including taxes and fees, a caveat that applies to all four plans). It’s essentially the company’s old $95-per-month “Above Unlimited” plan, just $5 cheaper and with 30GB of LTE hot spot data before you get throttled instead of 20GB. Other differences include the fact that Get More include a discount on tablet data (which Above did not), but that comes at the expense of losing the free travel passes that Above used to offer. The rest: 75GB of LTE data, 720p video streaming, free Apple Music, and the various cloud storage and connected device discounts are all the same as the old plan. Why Verizon didn’t just keep the name remains a mystery.

The entry-level unlimited plan — now called “Start Unlimited” — is also virtually identical to the “Go Unlimited” plan it replaces. Like Get More Unlimited, there’s a $5 price cut, so it starts at $70 for one line. (The two-line, three-line, four-line, and five-plus-line prices also drop by $5.) But the drawbacks are still here: Verizon can slow down your data at any time if the network is congested. There’s no guaranteed pool of high-speed data like the other “unlimited” plans. Video streaming is limited to DVD-quality (480p), and unlike the old Go Unlimited plan (which offered extremely slow tethering), there’s no hotspot option at all with Start. The included Apple Music subscription is just a six-month trial. And unlike the other three unlimited plans, Start Unlimited (like Go Unlimited before it) is the only one that doesn’t include Verizon’s limited-time free 5G data offer; it’ll always cost $10 per month.

Image: Verizon

Those first two plans are essentially pointless renames with a slight price cut. It’s the middle plans where things start to get really confusing. You see, Verizon’s mid-tier “unlimited” plan used to be its “Beyond Unlimited” plan, which started at $85 for a single line and offered 22GB of LTE data before slowdowns, 720p HD video streaming, free Apple Music, and 15GB of LTE hot spots.

But with the new setup, that midtier plan is being split into two different $80 plans (again, with a $5 price cut from the old offerings.) There’s “Do More Unlimited,” which offers 50GB of LTE data before congestion, 500GB of cloud storage, and a discount on a connected tablet or hot spot, but it downgrades video streaming to 480p only and only has six months of Apple Music. Then there’s the “Play More Unlimited” plan, which costs the same $80 for a single line, and it more closely resembles the old Beyond Unlimited plan: 25GB of LTE before congestion, 720p streaming, and free Apple Music. Both plans still include the 15GB of LTE hot spot data as well as free 5G for an unspecified limited time (after which point, it’ll cost an extra $10 per month for customers who want to keep the fast data speeds).

There’s also technically a fifth plan, which is only available as an add-on to one of the aforementioned four: Just Kids, which was announced earlier this year as a plan specifically for children. It’s getting a $5 price drop, too, bringing it down to $50 for the line, but otherwise, it offers the same 5GB of monthly data and unlimited talk / text to 20 parent-approved contacts. This is a good time to remind you that all five of these plans can be mixed and matched together on a single account, depending on the various needs (and budgets) of each member on the plan.

To recap: Verizon is cutting prices by $5 on all of its plans, renaming (but otherwise not changing) half of them, and splitting one of its plans into two similar, equally priced, but subtly different plans for reasons that are only clear to Verizon.

Despite the “unlimited” name on all of these, none of them actually offer what most people would call unlimited data: that is to say, the ability to use your phone as much as you’d like with the fastest speeds possible with no congestion or restrictions on what kind of streaming you can do or whether it’s directly on your phone or shared with a laptop over a hot spot. (Although, in fairness, that’s a problem for all of the major carriers, not just Verizon.)

The new plans will be available starting next week, on August 5th, when they’ll replace Verizon’s current trio of “unlimited” offerings.

Correction: Clarified additional differences between Verizon’s old Above and Go Unlimited plans and the new Get More and Start Unlimited plans.

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