Verizon's Unlimited Data Offering Runs Up Against Limits For Business Customers

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Verizon jumped back into the unlimited data ring over the weekend with a new plan, its first since discontinuing a similar offering in 2011.

Verizon's latest data plan -- Verizon Unlimited -- offers unlimited data for $80 monthly for a single line and four lines of unlimited data for $180 monthly. The move comes on the heels of rivals Sprint and T-Mobile last month revealing competitively priced unlimited data plans for their customers.

Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon needed to respond to the recent moves from Sprint and T-Mobile, said Rob Chamberlin, co-founder and chief revenue officer of DataXoom, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based solution provider and wireless carrier partner that specializes in mobility services.

[Related: Verizon Restructures Small Business Segment, Launches Verizon Business Markets]

"I believe both T-Mobile and Sprint have some fairly good momentum in the market based on both aggressive service pricing and their own 'unlimited' data offerings," he said. "I do believe that Verizon had to make this move to stem any further gains by these more aggressive competitors."

T-Mobile, the wireless carrier that has led the charge in so-called un-carrier moves and unlimited data plan offerings, reported in its fourth-quarter 2016 financials that it had 933,000 branded postpaid net additions in the quarter, which was higher than fourth-quarter 2015's 917,000. By comparison, Verizon had 591,000 postpaid net additions during 2016's fourth quarter.

Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile is currently selling unlimited data for $70 for one line including taxes and fees, $10 less expensive than Verizon's unlimited plan before taxes and fees.

"It's been obvious that T-Mobile is spearheading these newer plans and offers, just like they were the first carrier to do away with the two-year contract. The carriers have been following in T-Mobile's footsteps, so the momentum is not really with the two big players -- Verizon and AT&T," said Robert Mendoza, technical help-desk manager for TeraNova Consulting Group, a telecom expense management provider for wireless offerings that partners with the four major wireless providers in the U.S.

While the new unlimited plans are creating a stir in the consumer space, the impact these plans will have in the business space are likely to be minimal for now. Consumers make up the largest segment of most telecoms' customer base, so while offerings are often launched for consumers first, these deals eventually bleed into the business segment.

A spokesperson for Verizon told CRN that Verizon Unlimited is currently available for small-business customers up to 50 lines.

Aside from very small customers, unlimited plans would unlikely meet the needs of larger business customers, DataXoom's Chamberlin said. "Most midmarket and enterprise clients don't really believe in unlimited or 'free,' and will be better served by current Verizon rate plans that offer mobile data pooling across a large number of wireless devices," he said.

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