Verizon Could Leave Road Warriors Hungry

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What's a road warrior looking for directions or a place to eat to do? Verizon ended its all-you-can-eat data plan this week, at least for new subscribers. While there is the possibility of shared data plans for families, this is probably of little consolation for businesses.

Until recently, Verizon was offering new subscribers $30 for unlimited data for one handset, and between $20 to $80 for mobile broadband for tablets, netbooks, and mobile hotspots. However, most business travelers may be most interested in what the new tiered plans could be.

Verizon Could Leave Road Warriors Hungry
The truth is that for many users this might be business as usual. Verizon maintains that the majority of users--95 percent, by some accounts--never even hit the 2GB mark. But for others it could result in a transition period where users are forced to determine whether the new 2GB plan for $30 per month is enough, or if upping to 5GB per month at $50 makes more sense. Heavy-duty users will also have the option of going for 10GB for $80 per month.

This is really difficult to figure out. Smartphone users tend to rely heavily on their devices, and when out in the "wild" as it were; these handsets are the lifelines to email, Web, and other data transmissions. The carrier is looking to ditch the unlimited, so-callrf "all-you-can-eat" plan in favor of what has been called "buckets" of megabytes.

If you are mostly reading and sending email, and only occasionally viewing the Web, then 2GB could be fine. But factor in VoIP, video, and other data and suddenly it could be back to the old days when users watched their cell phone minutes very closely as the month ticked away. The last thing a road warrior wants to do is avoid pulling out the phone to get directions in fear of going over a data limit.

Fortunately, at the reported $10 per GB overage, it probably isn't a make-or-break deal, but for those who try to pinch pennies these overages can add up somewhat quickly. Most email probably won't knock users over the limit, but those who get large attachments should be more concerned. While even 100 emails a day isn't an issue, a few large files could eat up a lot of data.

In this chart (click thumbnail image at right for full-size view), we show, using concrete examples, how much content you can download before reaching various plan limits.

The same holds true for Web usage. Where visiting a couple dozen pages daily won't put you over the top, sharing photos, using social media and most importantly video can really add up fast. Those in the lower-tier plans would be smart to think before snapping a photo and sending it from their smartphone.

In the meantime, the best plan for business users on Verizon might be to hang on to their current plan. The new tiers are reportedly for new subscribers, so if you're already a Verizon user happy with all the data you can "eat," you'll want to stay at that data buffet as long as you can.

Peter Suciu writes about technology trends for small business, but has an appreciation for the Victorian Age when the telegraph was the information superhighway. After living in New York City for 18 years, he now resides in more rural Michigan.

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