The era of the all-you-can-eat data buffet for smartphone users may be coming to an end.
Starting Thursday, new subscribers to Verizon Wireless will no longer have the option of an unlimited data plan and will instead have to choose between one of several tiered options.
The change will leave Sprint as the only so-called Tier 1 wireless provider offering unlimited plans. (AT&T switched to the usage-based smartphone data pricing scheme last year, followed by T-Mobile USA.)
Techland reports Verizon’s new plans will start at 2 gigabytes for $30 per month and that going over your data plan will cost $10 per gigabyte.
Existing customers will be able to keep their unlimited plans beyond July 7, even after upgrading to new smartphones, the company says.
The switch seems to be a direct response to a dramatic data usage increase. In the past year, smartphone data usage has almost doubled, from 230 MB to 435 MB, according to the New York Times.
Consumers and businesses alike demand more data, making packaged data plans a lucrative business. But as steep as the switch to metered plans might seem, it won't necessarily affect that many customers.
A recent study by Validas, a company that specializes in efficiently matching customers with plans, found that less than 1 percent of Verizon Wireless subscribers use more than 5 GB and that the overwhelming majority (96 percent) of smartphone users consume less than 2 GB.*
*Clarification: The post has been updated to clarify the Validas survey results.