Verizon CFO Says Unlimited Data Is Just A Word, As T-Mobile Brings It Back

If you’re a person who believes that an unlimited data plan is a beautiful thing, Verizon’s Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo thinks you should know better. Speaking at an investor conference yesterday, Shammo claimed that “unlimited” is just a word causing a brief uproar around the internet.

In fact, Shammo says:

So what customers are understanding and through our good sales routine is once you explain to a customer their usage on a monthly basis, unlimited is just a word, it doesn’t really mean anything and that people don’t really — I think a lot of consumers think they consume a lot more data than they really do. So that whole unlimited thing I think is going by the wayside and they see the benefit of going to the shared.

Shammo is right in some sense that most people don’t need an unlimited plan, and that it’s a false sense of security. The thing is, for power users, who are far to often the loudest voice among wireless customers, unlimited data is a necessity and Sprint and T-Mobile are willing to fulfill that need Verizon now choose to push to the “wayside.”

Still, I can’t help but feel Shammo is telling us that we don’t understand how we use data, only Verizon does so we’re just going to tell you what to think about it and never sell you an unlimited plan again.

I don’t like being told what to think by my wireless company, even if there may be some truth to it. Furthermore, his comments beg for a question of timing as T-Mobile launches their own Unlimited Nationwide 4G data plan. Was this a cheap shot at Sprint and T-Mobile? Still, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42Mbps customers average less than 2GB of data per month, so again, Shammo isn’t wrong in that sense.

I’m just happy that with T-Mobile, I have the choice of Unlimited Data yet again. I hope you are as well.

Android Central

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  • briankh

    My kids go through 5GB in 2 weeks. They watch Youtube music videos and listen to streaming music. They were constantly being throttled. So the unlimited is a welcome option to me.

    • unknown

      You obviously never heard of wifi.

      • Maybe he doesn’t have a wifi router at home. Idiot. Think first.

        • Ford_Thundercougarfalconbird

          A wifi router costs around $90 for a decent one. That’s less than a year of unlimited.

        • ColoradoGray

          Not everybody has home broadband Internet either.

        • mingkee

          Think about this: I used few hundred dollars to have wifi covers all over the house (1 router + 4 access points + several powerline network adapters + cable)

      • Justin

        Maybe the kids just aren’t at home…? As in, at school, waiting for the bus, in the car, at the park? Not every place has free Wi-Fi, and not all kids sit at home all day. Have you ever tried streaming Netflix to your phone over network? 5GBs in two weeks is nothing. More common sense, less trolling.

        • Ash

          People get brainwash by the carriers BS so much.
          What is this 1999?

      • briankh

        Obviously never heard of driving around in a car keeping kids entertained. Also, when they are at a friends house they don’t have access to their parents wifi password. Or if they are hanging out with their friends outside they may be listening to music and watching videos. You obviously don’t have teenagers.

        • mingkee

          Pardon me. You did not mention that. I definitely hook up wifi at home because I have unlimited wifi calling on my new S3.

  • Chris

    I personally use it to listen to Google music thru Bluetooth in the car all the time. I am at 6GB right now. I would have been throttled already with my 5GB plan and I pay less for unlimited. Whats not to love. Doesn’t seem like just a word to me.

    • mingkee

      I use remote desktop on my phone a lot, so the data consumption is rather large. Not to mention I played a lot internet radios.

  • Craig S.

    I wasn’t necessarily going over my 2GB allowance, but I was constantly checking where I was at as far as my usage. Not having to worry about it now offers me piece of mind for the additional $10 a month.

  • Ahhh he’s just jealous Verizon dont have truely ulimited data anymore because Verizon wants more $$$$ out of the consumr pocket

    • loyal

      He’s not jealous. he doesn’t the consumer to think at way. he’s losing a huge profit margin if the company was forced to lift its limits and create an option for true unlimited. they would prefer one to just pay more on the next data bracket to prevent throttling. and if you do get throttled no lose in their pockets, they don’t have to fork anymore of your money to the cable companies. greedy greedy companies!

    • mingkee

      He just want to f’ customers much harder until blood streams all over the Mississippi River.

  • You also have to look at how many also use WiFi. I use 2gb a month but I use WiFi at both home and work. Without WiFi I’d be pushing 6-8 gb.

    • Alda


    • erod

      And thats where the problem is bro you have been told to use wifi over whatever cool network they want to brag about

  • kamy

    This is like Apple telling people (up until iPhone 5) that no one needs a phone screen bigger then 3.5 inch. I agree 100% with the author “I don’t like being told what to think by my wireless company” :-)

    • Doakie

      Funny I was just thinking to myself, “Those are bold factually inaccurate claims, who does this guy think he is? Steve Jobs?”

    • mingkee

      What Apple said is TOTALLY FALSE.
      Try to control computers with remote desktop and you will realize how good the big screen is. Don’t tell me to use tablet because webconnect for tablets has 5GB limit, and the $20 unlimited does not allow sharing, so larger screen on the phone is a must.
      Too bad Galaxy Note sold out everywhere.

  • Tulio M. Mesa

    Im already throttled at 2 and im up to 5 gigs i must say unlimited would very much help

  • Long time w/Tmo

    I am by no means a power user, but quite easily used up the 2 GB of data I had under my Tmo plan each month, and often found myself wanting. I could’ve easily consumed more with a few Netflix movies, if it wasn’t for the cap. I’ve switched to the new unlimited data plan, and am enjoying very much. I suspect that many users who were averaging only 2 GB wil now use more with the cap removed.

  • Rick T

    I like that I can actually use data the way I want now. I wasn’t doing half the stuff I wanted to do because I didn’t want to be throttled. Now I don’t have to worry about it.

  • Paul

    He is basically saying that they know better than the consumer what the consumer needs. I bet if they offered unlimited that a LOT of their constomers would switch over.

    • Bratty

      He is looking at actual data of how his customers are behaving. You are going on anecdotes.

      • Paul

        I’m going on the fact that I HAVE hit my 5Gig cap before, as well as others that aren’t commenting on here. It’s easy to get a few dozen to confess to reaching their cap.
        You are going by your use, and a joking prod at my statement. He’s looking at data use in general and not by heavy users. So everyone is wrong.

      • On that same note, T-Mobile looked at its consumers and went the other route, figuring that they can start gaining users who don’t want limits on their data.

  • Winski

    AND, tell the CMO over at Verizon that ‘I’m leaving’ is just a phrase too !!


    (did the EX-CMO from T-Mobile go over to Verizon?? Sure sounds like something he would say….)

  • Unlimited data is a need for some, I use well over 9GB in a month sometimes. Verizon doesn’t can’t beat TMo plans, so they will throw out something like this. Sadly, Verizon and AT&T have HORRIBLE price plans, and Verizon FORCES you to take a shared plan if you are a new customer. That is just wrong.

  • Marc

    Unlimited in the sense of the possibility of getting as much as you want – no caps or throttling – sure, that seems like a no-brainer. But the notion that one should expect this to be available for a flat monthly fee as opposed being charged according to how much you use – this strikes me as kind of selfish and unfair. This basically results in the lower-usage customers subsidizing the higher-usage ones. So of course, naturally, the power users want to see this, but it comes at a price to other users.

    • Hesster

      So is it unfair when people go to a buffet restaurant and some people go back for seconds or thirds and others leave after one plate? You chose to go to a buffet. The prices account for differences in consumer behavior, and there are other options available. If you want to pay for tiered data, be my guest.

      • Marc

        I never it said it was unfair to offer it, or unfair to take advantage of it if offered. But yes, if a whole bunch of “power eaters” were going around loudly demanding that their favorite restaurants offer all-you-can eat, I’d say the same thing. If the unlimited plan pays for itself, then fine, whatever, no skin off my back. I fear it is unliley to work out that way, though, and customers on all other plans will feel the pinch. Just as if a restaurant caved in to demands to add a buffet, found the buffet lost money, but they jacked up the regular menu prices to make up the difference.

        • Hesster

          So far they haven’t raised prices. Right now TMO has more capacity than users on their 4G network, so they can afford to service lots of new customers (including people who might suck up a lot of data) without impacting existing customers. They’re obviously hoping the truly unlimited feature will draw enough low usage new users who want peace of mind to make it worthwhile. I’m sure they’ll be watching data usage trends, and if badwidth becomes a problem they’ll cut off enrollment and go back to exclusively offering tiered/throttled data.

          Even if TMO does make a lot of money off people overpaying for data they don’t use, they won’t be giving that money back to the consumer. They’ll be using it to build out the network, sending it back to DT, or doing any number of business related things with it.

          In short, I wouldn’t worry about how many plates someone else is going back for until they actually raise rates.

        • This would depend on the data consumption of users on the towers. If people are streaming data on their phone 24/7 for the entire month and it’s negatively affecting other users on that tower, then that’s a problem.

          Fortunately, the towers distribute data & prioritize based on the amount of (and type of) devices connected – almost like QOS on routers.

    • Ash

      Uhh, T-mo still has the best price of all 4 big boys.

      And, if you don’t want unlimited, there are other plans that are not unlimit and even cheaper.

    • Except they still offer lower data plans, so this doesn’t really fit

  • No-one special

    Fran Shammo is a guy?

    • mikkej2k

      Fran Tarkinton – football player I think. So , yeah , I guess guys get named Fran.

      • frigadroid

        Fran the man Tarkinton # 10 was the best quarterback the Minnesota Vikings ever had. He wasn’t that big nor was he that fast but his scrambling ability was second to none. He could scramble for 40 yards then complete a 5 yard pass. It’s a shame minnesota never won the superbowl but his stats & longevity ranks him as one of the best.

  • steveb944

    I’m one of those that uses less than 2gigs, but I’m glad I have the option for the future if I need it. One option is never a good thing, it’s always good to have more. Thank you T-mobile for being different

  • I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Then get charged $5k because Verizon is full of A$$holes. Glad I have T-Mo

  • jonstonson

    David, cmo or CFO? typo on one of the two

    • Yup, changed the title, thank you!

  • Erod

    The way i think about todays wireless services is like this. We have amazing devices across the board in any carrier. And all carriers are working on amazing network enhancements have it be LTE and HSPA+ and finally the availability of cool apps like netflix, pandora, music unlimitied, and all the content available on the google play store. Whats the point of all this technology and applications if we are limited to 2-5GB and other than that be limited to wifi range. Carriers can talk coverage and speeds all they want but they are useless when you slap a cap on it. All this technology should open doors not close them. And thats why i applaud Sprint and T-Mobile for stepping up to the plate.

  • John Who

    I rather have peace of mind with additional $10.00 a month checking my data usage every day.

    • John Who

      rather have peace of mind with additional $10.00 a month then checking my data usage every day.

  • spitz

    Had to sign up for it yesterday, dang cm10 Rom downloads put me over!

    • Paul

      That’s what most of the downloads have been as well.
      And they say we don’t need unlimited.

  • Hesster

    Does the average user need unlimited data? No. The average user doesn’t go over 2GB a month. But _I_ need unlimited data because I’m bumping up against the 5GB limit on the Monthly4G plan. And that’s without tethering and with limiting the amount of video and large downloads. I want to watch HD videos and upload my 1.5GB Titanium Backups to my DropBox account, and I don’t have home Internet because I’m hardly there.

    Much as VZW would be happy to pretend we don’t exist, there are users that need large amounts of data. If the people who don’t really need unlimited data subsidize my heavy usage because they want peace of mind, I’m fine with that.

    • JB

      I’m right there with ya… and the good part about T-Mobile’s plan is that you’re not really subsidizing for the heavy users. If you don’t need more than that 2GB, just go for the 2GB plan, it’s $10 cheaper. If you want the peace of mind, you can pay the extra 10 and you can have all the data you want. So what’s the big deal? LOL

    • jdubtrey

      This last hurdle will be with TMobile, which makes you sign a contract to get unlimited dta even if you bring your own phone.

      • Hesster

        That is unfortunate. I wish they still let you sign up for postpaid service with no contract by just paying the activation fee.

  • JB

    My usage varies depending on what I’m doing.. I typically reach 5-7GB because my phone is pretty much my music player for when I go on workouts or using Spotify on the road. There are months that I use up to 10+ if I’m tethering or if I’m using my phone and I’m away from a wifi spot. Typically if I’m not at home or work… I don’t really like to rely on public wifi spots, just for security reasons. So I truly appreciate unlimited data plans.

    Sure, it’s not for everyone, but I think it stems from being told for so long by the wireless companies it’s not for everyone, so they can force us into tiered or shared data plans, so when the power users or someone on your account goes over the limit, they can stick you with overage charges. It’s just about a money grab (at least for the big two). I’d rather have unlimited data where I don’t have to worry about it at all.

  • Ford_Thundercougarfalconbird

    If no one really needs unlimited, then why limit it in the first place?

    • moises1204

      hahaha, good one..

    • Paul Garrison

      Best post all day!!

    • kamy

      Great point! By the same token, if the average expenditure for each person is $1000 per month, should Verizon pay him $1000/month for salary? (According to his logic, he should never need more than $1000 :-) )

      • bleeew

        Lol. Did you see Verizon’s CEO salary for 2011? Its huge! They want more money!!

    • Vic

      You, sir, have made my day. Brilliant post.

  • Loyal

    Iconic move from Verizon’s CFO! yes he’s right, currently families in 2011 only used an average 1.3GB over a total of year. the share of smartphone over all other basic device are getting bigger; and these smartphones are increasing with speed and productivity. consuming more internet data, I estimate and expect that number to rise, at least double in two years for the average family’s usage. T Mobile has the right idea and pricing structure!

    once you’re introduced to apps like Netflix, Vevo and YouTube, Play Store Movies and Music, one could drain the data plan in a matter of a week. There are 3D Games and GPS Maps that download a 1 GB of files, luckily most force you to use WiFi. so some tolerate using their WiFi while at home to preserve their high speed data plans for the road. This is exactly what the cell phone companies want consumers to get into the habit of doing, and it benefits the cable company because otherwise you might just say, i have a phone with hotspots and paying an outrageous price for two services, why do i need to have cable internet now?

    Where does this high speed on the cellular site come from, your friendly cable company hooking its < OC3 fiber in to the cell site. Trust me, Verizon and AT&T aren't going to compete with the cable companies and get a horrible deal when the contract ends, I'm sure Time Warner is sweating this one out and they have a plan to increase their rate for the telecom giants. Its just a recycled gasoline marketing scheme, but now it will be with data speeds and data limits with a device that is depend on that connection!!!. We're already watching it unfold in front of us.

  • Eric Eason

    My phone said between August 24 -September 2! Ive uses 25.52 GBS Verizon let me know when u start making 2O Gb plan.

    • bleeew

      They do! For $150(I think) plus $40 a phone, and overages. It’s a rip-off!

  • Aaron Peromsik

    While it might be useful for some, for most people, “unlimited data” is just a word that means “I’m paying too much.” However it is unlikely that switching to Verizon will ever be the cure for that particular ailment.

  • Well here’s my argument to Mr. Shammo Hung! If unlimited data is just a term and consumers think they consume a lot more data than they actually do… then why unlimited minutes? Unlimited weekends? Unlimited weekday nights. Unlimited text? Unlimited fries? Im sure that people talk on their mobile way less and text way more nowadays, so by that argument Verizon, you should do away with your unlimited minutes, or just do away with unlimited all together!

  • VZguyNow

    I left behind my extremely slow “Unlimited” plan at Sprint for Verizon and happier for it. I use data all of the time but rarely go over 2GB on average. I don’t watch video on my phone which is what really eats up data. I think the Verizon guy is right, we don’t use as much as we think we do on a national average.

    • thepanttherlady

      But should the “national average” dictate what the rest of us can use? I’m a heavy user and can easily (and have) hit 10gb+ a month without tethering. Prior to the unlimited plan, I had to watch my data to avoid the throttle. For the same price I was paying for the 5gb plan, you bet I switched to unlimited. Whether or not I hit 5gb+ now doesn’t matter. What does is that I can without worry.

    • jdubtrey

      The big problem I have with companies is the way they tier things. It is one thing to tell me that I can’t have all you can eat, but if that’s the case, let me have a completely pay per use plan that I can use almost exclusively on wifi. If I can’t have unlimited, let me have a plan where I have no data use expectations whatsoever and not have to be caught in between using what I paid for and not going over the limit.

  • Well of course they’re embracing it – they don’t have a choice!

    Your upgrade is held hostage unless you submit to non-unlimited plans.

  • Bajamin

    I agree with the article, but why are you people so glued to your phones? I have had a smart phone since the G1 and am still amazed as to how much time people spend watching tv, playing on you tube, listening to streaming music, facebooking. I think people may need to put the phone down and go talk to people, take a hike etc.

    • briankh

      I listen to XM Radio, Pandora, and Jango while hiking, biking, and running. Those apps use data. I am a pilot who spends a lot of time in airports between flights. I keep in touch with my family via Skype and Google Talk while I am on the road. Don’t speak for everyone. You don’t know everyones needs.

      • Bajamin

        Because non data devices don’t exist for these things? I’m not saying there is no reason to use your phone but c’mon people spend WAYYYY to much time glued to that screen. Not everyone is a world traveling pilot who apparently doesn’t own an MP3 player. And I wasn’t speaking FOR anyone, I was voicing an opinion.

        • jdubtrey

          How people use several GBs of data is a completely different topic than whether or not unlimited data is useful to some. Either it is or it isn’t. What people do in consuming the data doesn’t advance this discussion.

          A mp3 player is not a substitute for a connected device.

  • As much as I am glad T-Mobile is doing this unlimited data thing, it doesn’t really mean a lot if you can’t get a decent signal so you can use it. When I’m at home I barely get two bars of signal on 2G signal range. You can’t watch YouTube or Netflix on that and web pages take forever to load up.

  • Rush420

    I had 5 gs a month. 6030. Not to mention my bill went down 5 bucks the man is stupid to say that no one needs unlimited data streaming cost a lot of data try streaming video or music like pandora. Pretty easy to use 500 mb in a couple hours just because mr shammo doesn’t use data doesn’t mean that no one else does the way things are going like cloud services an streaming music you would be crazy not to take advantage thing like unlimited data f*$k off Mr shammo…..

  • therealmikebrown

    Unlimited is just a word.
    A word they use to sell voice and text packages.
    Do they spend the time to explain to the customer that even though he only uses
    200 voice minutes, he has no choice because they don’t offer a plan that low. It would be too cheap.

  • I feel like if I am paying for unlimited then I’m going to use as much as I can. Yes I have wifi at home and work but as long as I have 4G I am going to use it.

  • WirelessRefugee

    Total bullsheet. What he does NOT tell us (him knowing full well his comments will be made public) is that the reason for these new shared data plans is that AT&T and Verizon make a lot more money.

    And if this guy was on the witness stand being cross examined I’d ask him “Why did you get rid of unlimited data plans, was it because people don’t need or use as much data as they think they need, or was it to increase the bottom line?”

    Of course, Verizon is in business to make money, stabilize and increase profits, and grow. Verizon is NOT in the business of doing what’s right for or helping the consumer.

    If Verizon and AT&T were being altruistic they would not have come out with artificially low data plans that guarantee monthly overage charges, and they would not have come out with AUTOMATIC imposition of data overage charges when one exceeds plan limits.

    • bleeew

      Verizon could still have made profit from Unlimited, especially with LTE.

      • Except they make a lot more money charging ridiculous amounts of money for internet. $30 for unlimited vs $30 for 2GB, 50 for 4, etc… plus the tethering cost

  • Trevnerdio

    Aw is Verizon trying to justify royally screwing over their loyal, prior unlimited customers? Poor butthurt Verizon.

  • bleeew

    I’m sure “canceling” is a word too! Since canceling obviously means to stop, and we don’t need a necessity to keep going. I hate how Verizon wants to take away my Unlimited Data!!

  • Freak4Dell

    It is just a word…just not in the sense that this guy is thinking. Most customers don’t need unlimited. Verizon knows that, and so do the other carriers. The thing is, though, customers will buy stuff they don’t need as long as they think it’s a good deal. They think they’re somehow getting more with the unlimited package, even if they’re still only using 1-2GB. They also think it gives them a safety net. T-Mobile played this really well, by pricing unlimited above the 2GB plan. That’s an extra $10 of free revenue from a ton of customers who won’t use more than the cheaper package would have given them. For anybody that’s on the fence, all the sales reps have to do is say, “Well, it’s better to have the unlimited because you might go over without meaning to, and you won’t be charged/throttled.” Most customers will just grab the unlimited plan at that point.

    So, while Verizon is over there thinking, “nobody needs unlimited, so we’ll just overcharge the few that do need a ton of data,” T-Mobile is thinking, “nobody needs unlimited, but we’ll go ahead and charge the masses that think they do.” Verizon makes money on the few that do need a lot of data, and T-Mobile loses money on those people, but it’s worth the loss.

  • Paul Birkbeck

    I used to use like 16 gb a month when I had sprint.. so I will switch to unlimited soon!

  • kahlayoh

    well for a customer like me, I’m paying same for 5gb as if I was to transfer over to the unlimited 4G data plan. So security would be a good reason for me, since I’m always reaching my 5GB every month. I stream a lot of movies, music, youtube..etc. and I connect to wifi when i’m at home as well. I think someones just jealous that tmo is offering a true unlimited data plan!

  • kingkobe214

    I really needed the Unlimited Data, because I work overnight and before I couldn’t watch Netflix, HBO, MAX, Youtube, or ESPN like I wanted to, now that I have got the unlimited I have used 7GB of data since the launch, and have another week before my cycle, recycle lol, so bump what he’s saying and YES I love the security of not running out because in the past I did and my phone was death after that because I was sad lol…

  • mingkee

    Unlimited is truly a saver for me because I usually use 10-14GB three lines combined. Now I can let the line with unlimited doing most of the mobile internet job and leave webconnect for laptop.

  • devon4gg

    Yea I love t-mobile’s truly unlimited 4G speeds! its great! Here’s how much data I actually use!! [IMG][/IMG]

  • De’Marcus Winbush

    Yeah Verizon is on one and its all about getting money. They only brought the unlimited data to attract customers for the launch of the iPhone 4 to get some of AT&T customers. Now that those customers contracts are coming to an end on February 10 like myself they want you to upgrade and lose your data plan. BS. I just rather buy a iphone 5 off eBay and keep my unlimited data and use all the data I want.

  • Lauren Creech

    So can anyone tell me how much my average data consumption of 70Gb/month would be costing me on Vz… I won’t be leaving Sprint anytime soon. HDMI out to tv and running remote desktop to servers all over the country. Add Hulu Plus and YouTube and Pandora One and my data is through the roof.

  • Data Consumer

    Really? Unlimited is just a word. Who are you kidding?

  • S14Stig

    Verizon should just shut up. The impending doom of the Red Empire is about to begin with the victory of the Magenta Jedis!! Shared plan – what a joke!

  • RobsDNA

    Don’t tell me I don’t need unlimited data cause most people only use 2 gb ….its a smartphone …GPS …streaming music … Games videos ….that 2 gb goes quicker the a horses u know what…Verizon turning smart phones into dumb phones ….so much stuff to do on a smart phone but ain’t paying a kidney a lung and a left arm.

  • edfranco1

    I just switched to Verizon “ONLY” because my mom added me to her plan and not by choice. I was a T-Mobile customer who LOVED AND MISS there UNLIMITED data. I hate the fact that NOW i must track and limit my data usage so that we don’t have to pay for that extra “frustrated user” I wasn’t exactly a data hog but i also wasn’t one of those ONLY 2GB and below users. I was averaging about 6gb a month and this made me happy and asured and never had to worry about it, not once. I NOW WORRY and have to use wifi to utilize my cell phone providers data and have to block apps from automatically doing any of the simple things every phone must do like updating or simply downloading a new app or email files/attachments. What is the point of PAYING so much money for a service provider who claims to be the best (not in my area) and not actually being able to use it with out worrying? Lots of people do not talk on phones anymore because we use the data more.
    If you the CEO’s at Verizon or At&t are reading this, you better listen and change that because you wont always be on top.

    ps If T-Mobile keeps moving at there rate they will be meet or surpass Verizon & At&t in the next few years.