Verizon Wireless is dumping its unlimited-data-use offering for new customers and replacing it with four "usage-based" plans beginning Thursday.
The new pricing options will consist of four choices: $10 for 75 megabytes of data a month, $30 for 2 gigabytes, $50 for 5 gigabytes or $80 for 10 gigabytes, said Jenny Weaver, a spokeswoman for the telecommunications giant. Subscribers will have to pay $10 for each gigabyte of data they use beyond their monthly limits, she said.
Current Verizon cellphone subscribers, who pay $29.99 a month for unlimited data, won't be affected, unless they want to switch to a new usage-based plan. Data plans for tablets, wireless hot spots and USB modems and other data plans the company offers will also remain the same, she said.
"This only affects new customers with phones that use data plans," Weaver said. "If you have Verizon and you have an unlimited data plan, you can keep it. Customers can even keep their unlimited data plans when they get a new phone if they want to, or they can choose a new plan if they want to, at any time, without penalty."
For those Verizon subscribers who do switch to a usage-based plan, it probably won't result in a huge difference from what they're paying now, she said.
"Right now about 95% of our customers use 2 gigabytes of data or less each month, so even if they switched to a usage-based plan, they likely wouldn't notice any difference," Weaver said. "The big change really is that now heavy data users will pay a fair usage-based price for their data consumption when they sign up for a new data plan."
Verizon is also introducing a free text-message and email alert system this week to warn its users when they hit certain monthly thresholds in their data usage, to help people avoid exceeding their monthly limits, she said.
Customers will get a free text message whenever they hit 50%, 75%, 90%, 100% and 110% of their plans' monthly allowances, Weaver said.