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Verizon will soon hike the price of grandfathered unlimited data plans by $20

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Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
It’s true what they say about all good things. Verizon, more often that not the bearer of bad news nowadays, announced the end of its (relatively) cheap unlimited data plans Thursday morning — most grandfathered subscribers on the carrier’s $30 per month plan will soon see a $20 rate hike.

The adjustment goes into effect starting Nov. 15, and effectively increases the unlimited plan’s base pricing to $49. Out-of-contract customers will see their rate increased immediately, while customers currently in a contract will be able to stick with current pricing until the end of said contract. Verizon will begin notifying affected customers roughly a month ahead of time — beginning on Oct. 15, according to Droid Life. Corporate and government accounts are exempt from the change.

One consolation? Grandfathered customers will now be able to upgrade devices through Verizon’s device payment plan instead, a benefit previously exclusive to capped customers. But the perk doesn’t come cheap: even paired with the very cheapest of Verizon’s voice calling and texting add-ons, the pricier data could push some grandfathered subscribers’ monthly rates north of $100.

For its part, Verizon argues the charge is necessary to “maintain the highest network performance” for all customers. “As data use continues to grow, we continuously evaluate the price of our plans and services,” the company said in a statement. And for customers who can’t afford the new plans, “there are options out there that don’t involve unlimited that may be a better fit.”

It’s not the first time the telecommunications giant has attempted to curtail grandfathered unlimited data users, which the company says account for less than 1 percent of its subscriber base. Verizon announced a plan last year to throttle “heavy users” of unlimited data during peak network times, but backtracked after it raised the ire of the Federal Communications Commission.

In the years following Verizon’s 2011 decision to discontinue its unlimited data option for new customers, unlimited plans have become somewhat of a rarity among the U.S.’s largest four carriers. Sprint and T-Mobile offer plans (for $60 and $80 per month, respectively), but AT&T, which eliminated its unlimited data plan in 2010, throttles grandfathered unlimited subscribers once they’ve used 22GB of data in a single month.

At Re/code’s Code Conference in May, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said he expects to see unlimited data plans phased out as smartphones begin to use more data. In response, Claure said, carriers will push customers to capped plans by raising the price of unlimited data. Those appear to have been prescient words.

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