now, most of the talk surrounding tiered data plans has involved
setting limits on how much data
a mobile user consumed. In a Wall
Street Journal interview,
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg hints that his company, the nation's
largest wireless carrier, might take a different factor into account
when setting data pricing -- speed.
said that this type of tiered structure would become possible once
the carrier's 4G
LTE network is deployed, but that the company is still
experimenting with possibilities and hasn't developed anything
CFO Fran Shammo likened possible plans to ones offered by home
internet services, considering LTE can deliver speeds from 1 Mb to 12
Mb per second. "If you want to pay for less speed, you'll
pay for less speed and consume more, or you can pay for high speed
and consume less," Shammo told WSJ.
is expected to announce a number of 4G devices at the Consumer
Electronics Show in January, with a first device available in
February. There are somewhere around six 4G devices known to be
coming to Verizon in the first half of 2011, including one
from LG and an
Android-based model from HTC that is strikingly similar to
Sprint's EVO 4G. Seidenberg told WSJ that
there would be more 4G devices on the market than originally
expected, thanks to a push within the organization to develop new
quarters of Verizon's customers are expected to be data users within
the next three or four years, Seidenberg said, compared to less than
one quarter today. But he wouldn't outright proclaim the death of
unlimited data (the
way AT&T has). "I don't think the world's that
simple," he said. "We need to get into it, figure out what
the customer thinks is fair, and go from there."
has already begun offering a
version of tiered data plans to its customers, with a
$14.99-per-month plan that allows 150 Mb of data. But according to
the WSJ report,
this is merely a "holiday promotion."
AT&T has taken a hardline approach by capping usage, the two
smaller carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile (third- and fourth-largest,
respectively) have taken speed into account. Sprint charges an
additional $10 a month to customers who want to take
advantage of its burgeoning 4G WiMax network (in fact, they charge it
to anyone who purchases a "4G"-branded device, regardless
of whether the service is available in the area). And T-Mobile, which
a low-usage smartphone data plan similar to Verizon's,
data speeds when consumers reach 5 GB of usage in a month.
does Seidenberg think of the two companies? "There are too
many players in the industry," he said. "I think it would
be healthy if there's more consolidation."
pesky iPhone deal: Seidenberg admitted that Verizon's push
for LTE helped garner Apple's interests, but wouldn't comment on
whether or when Big Red would get the iPhone. "If the
iPhone comes to us, it's because Apple thinks it's time," he
said. "Our interests are beginning to come together more but
they have to take steps to align their technology with ours."