Life harder for grandfathered unlimited-data users

Wireless carriers will raise rates, amend policies

An AT&T sign is seen outside a branch in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, U.S., October 24, 2016.    REUTERS/Jim Young
An AT&T sign is seen outside a branch in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, U.S., October 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

The nation’s biggest wireless carriers are making it a bit harder to keep your grandfathered unlimited data plan.

AT&T intends to raise the price of its “legacy” plan, which it no longer sells, by $5 a month in March — bringing the total monthly price of the plan to $40. This marks the second time AT&T has upped its rate for this group in 12 months.

Verizon, meanwhile, has a new policy whereby any customer on a grandfathered unlimited plan who consumes more than 200 GB of data in a month must switch to a metered plan or be disconnected by Feb. 16. Customers won’t be able to get around the cut simply by reducing their usage now and ramping it up later.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Verizon said it will “review data usage regularly” moving forward.

The two moves, which were reported previously by DSL Reports and Ars Technica, make grandfathered plans less attractive to the small group of subscribers who still have them.

For years, carriers have been pushing customers to abandon unlimited plans and shift to plans with data caps and overage charges, which allow carriers to make more money. Executives have called unlimited plans a money-losing proposition.

AT&T recently reintroduced a version of its unlimited plan, hoping to lure customers with the promise of all-you-can-eat data. But to get it, customers also must subscribe to AT&T’s TV service, DirecTV.

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T-Mobile, meanwhile, has doubled down on unlimited, encouraging new and current subscribers to switch to its T-Mobile One plan.

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