back to article Verizon CFO: 'Unlimited' data is just a word

Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo has told analysts that "unlimited" when used to describe data is "just a word" and the idea of an open pipe is heading to extinction. "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 …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. theJML

    Unlimited is just a word... and so is Customer.

    'unlimited' is a word... it's a word that means I don't have to care how much I'm using or worry that I'm going over my limit. If unlimited plans go away, then the word unlimited needs to go with them. I'm okay with that as long as they don't call 4.5GB == unlimited.

  2. Aaron Em

    Well, shit

    One unanticipated consequence of having bought an iPhone 4S recently: I have to care about this now.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Seems like we always get screwed in IT sector when it comes to numbers. Whether it's 1TB hard drives that are really 900GB or so and unlimited data packages that aren't. Gotta love those marketing folks!

    1. Steve Knox

      Re: Numbers

      Try fighting a battle which wasn't lost over twenty years ago.

    2. henrydddd

      Re: Numbers

      I wonder when the truth in packaging laws are going to be applied to smartphones? I am surprised that these companies haven't been sued for consumer fraud. Where is a Ralph Nader when you need him?

  5. Notas Badoff

    Words with fixed meanings, so last century...

    'Unlimited' used to be "just a word" until customers actually were able to consume all they could get. Then it became "a real problem" for the people running the buffet.

    So now they have multiple shared plans - half plate full, one plate full, or eight plates full - and an additional charge per family member. So three people each wanting slightly more than one plate full means you have to have the "whale of a meal" plan along with the $25 per person seating charge. That is sooo much more economical, right?

    The old "wafer-thin mint" come on... makes me want to explode!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Magani

    There appear to be limits to Unlimited

    While I realise that we are an ocean apart, Mr Verizon should take note of what Australia's consumer watchdog did with TPG's 'Unlimited' ADSL2 ad campaign.

    It would seem that TPG's understanding of 'Unlimited' was at odds with the OED's definition.

    "When I use a word it means what I want it to mean." H. Dumpty, esq.

    1. Alan Dougherty

      Re: There appear to be limits to Unlimited

      That article has no bearing on the word 'unlimited'.

      It appears to be soley about a $30 plan that you actually need to pay another $30 for the line.. Data useage per month is not mentioned.

      Did you read the article you posted a link for?

  8. asdf
    Thumb Up

    Verizon only good for their network

    If you are a light data user you get unlimited everything and 2 gig of data for $55 a month on Verizon's network (still the best imho) by going with page plus cellular. I actually get by on $12 a month (250min, 250 text, 10meg data) as I hardly use data (heres to having wifi everywhere I go). This allowed me to cancel the $90+ a month I was paying Verizon just for the privilege to own a smartphone and pay back the $300 subsidy I owed them for cancelling in a few months. The other huge advantage is not having to sign a plan that auto renews like Verizons to trap you for more time. The service is basically paygo. You can use virtually any verizon phone/smartphone on the network but the one drawback is no 4g but I never used anyway due to the nasty battery usage on my TBolt.

  9. Martin Kirk

    What an idiot!! I would love to see his lawyers explain away that the word means what we think it means, not what the customer understands.

    1. Colin Millar

      Idiot? - maybe not so much

      On this side of the pond he wouldn't get an argument from ofcom

  10. Levente Szileszky

    Well, this is the type of idiotic, incompetent, parasitic scumbag we have in executive positions...

    ... everywhere so it's not surprising if his world views have degenerated to that of a moron, these people ALL live in a bubble, fed by parasitic, evil forces like aforementioned Government Sachs... after all VZW, one quasi-monopoly giant is just like another (my fav is AT&T and its "cease-and-desist" dingo-berry CEO (that scumbag threatened someone with his shitkicking corporate lawyers for writing an email to him, His Honorary Scumbag CEO... another priceless story.)

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      Re: Well, this is the type of idiotic, incompetent, parasitic scumbag we have in executive positions

      To be fair, they don't live in a bubble, at all. They know precisely what they're doing and saying. So long as consumers put up with it, they'll continue to remain in their positions of power.

      Personally, I told Verizon to go fuck themselves long and hard with that $90/month contract ages ago. I moved my and my wife's numbers to T-Mobile for a fraction of the cost. And while service isn't as good, they aren't treating me like an ATM machine or dairy cow either.

      1. James 17

        Re: Well, this is the type of idiotic, incompetent, parasitic scumbag we have in executive positions

        you've mistaken that consumers have a choice.

        If consumers no longer put up with it and stop buying, they'll just buy legislation to keep customers.

        1. Kevin 6

          Re: Re: Well, this is the type of idiotic, incompetent, parasitic scumbag we have in executive

          so true its worked great for the Movie, and recording industry so far.

    2. bofh80

      Re: Well, this is the type of idiotic, incompetent, parasitic scumb...

      at least one of those people saw your post it seems . ..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You only lose unlimited when you upgrade *IF* you take the subsidy and renew your contract. If you pay full price for the phone, you get to keep your unlimited.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Arctic fox

    No word is "just a word", words are the basis of civilisation.

    At some stage after we had gotten past picking fleas out of each other's pelts we began to develop language (fire and the wheel probably came rather later!) precisely because our development as a species required that we develop the capacity to convey a wide range of information with precision. Words are important, without words we would not have developed human civilisation and technology. However, we do occasionally get throwbacks to an earlier stage of development who fail to understand one of the key things that humanity has spent the last couple of hundred thousand years or so doing. I think that Verizon's managers should concentrate on with picking fleas out of each other's pelts - its about their level.

    1. John McCallum
      Black Helicopters

      Re: No word is "just a word", words are the basis of civilisation.

      I dare you to send that to Verizon go on I dare you.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully in a few years we will be saying "Who the **** are Verizon?", how can Fran Shammo be crying about their lack of capacity when Google are setting up 1 Gbs symetric fiber

  15. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Malice in Blunderland

    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

    So Humpty Dumpty runs a mobile phone company now.

  16. NomNomNom

    This post has been deleted by its author

    This post has been deleted by its author

    This post has been deleted by its author

    the hell?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: deleted posts

      I always assume that a deleted post is the initial reaction of someone who eventually calms down enough to write one of the later posts. If that is the case here, we may assume that someone needed a *lot* of calming down.

      I can' t say I blame them. If "unlimited" is just a word, then so are "honest", "crooked", "criminal", "guilty" and "sacked".

      I wonder if this guy's tax returns are "just numbers".

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unlimited may be a word..

    But so is Class and Action and Lawsuit.

    So is *h*t-eating --shole.

    1. Goobertee

      Re: Unlimited may be a word..

      @AC 10:25

      "But so is Class and Action and Lawsuit."

      No, class and action are no longer with us as of their new contract. Arbitration and/or taking it to court as an individual are the words now.

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Unlimited may be a word..

        "No, class and action are no longer with us as of their new contract. Arbitration and/or taking it to court as an individual are the words now."

        And you can thank AT&T for that. Over a measly thirty dollars that AT&T didn't want to pay.

    2. John McCallum

      Re: Unlimited may be a word..

      No you have it the wrong way round there arseholes don't eat shit they dispense it.

  18. John 98

    Which bit doesn't he understand?

    Most of us don't need a dictionary to know what "unlimited" means. The telcos only misuse the word to hide how much they really charge. The word should be banned forthwith in adverts unless they want to REALLY offer UNLIMITED usage.

  19. Beachrider

    If you bring your lawyer...

    Marketing products in the USA has a legal context. Other businesses have tried to abuse words with clear meaning before. The countervailing forces in the USA will ensure that Verizon's legal budget (for labor and fines) will inflate to reflect this cavalier attitude to language.

    This freedom-thing is pesky, but it IS fun to watch...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ISPs have been pulling this stunt for many many years

    I've been booted off several ISPs (Madasafish, Freeserve & Pipex that I can remember) because I dared to use my unlimited accounts without worry about how much data I had transferred.

    Some were pre-ADSL days too, and a couple had "Unlimited" proudly in the name of the fricken package!

    And I don't forget how the ISPs like to blame their own customers for network capacity issues, cleverly making the customers ignore the fact that the ISP fucked up and over-sold the service by making them argue against themselves online by saying that the top 5% are ruining it for all the rest. If they sold a service as unlimited and failed to deliver then they shouldn't blame those who took them at their word.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you're going to swear...

      "...a couple had "Unlimited" proudly in the name of the fricken package!..." least do it properly. The word you are looking for is either "fucking" or "frigging". This isn't an Austin Powers film.

  21. Mr Young

    Try,try and try again

    Accept your fate as a dumb pipe good sirs - no censorship, no limits, no spying on users and etc

  22. Tom 35

    planning a mobile video service

    What again?

    They can't get past the idea that everyone is just waiting to pay big money to watch crap on a 3" screen.

    With they way they whine about people using too much data, what would happen to their network if this was actually popular with iPad users?

    And the one place I do see people watching video... the subway.

  23. Vin King

    On one hand, I love the QOS I get on the Verizon network. On the other hand, I hate the data limits and extreme pricing on high bandwidth packages. He's right in a way that consumers are "choosing" to move away from it, because most consumers aren't willing to pony up $500 for a new phone. That said, my current lack of an unlimited plan leaves me hurting for bandwidth, and constantly checking my data usage.

    I'd love to youtube and netflix the crap out of things. Why? Not because there's no lack of wifi, it's just that my workplace doesn't allow personal devices on the wireless. When I'm traveling, which happens somewhat often, I find my choice sometimes rests between using my own data connection or paying an extra $15 a night for hotel wifi services.

    I want unlimited, but unfortunately, I also want network quality and speed. Since quality and speed matter more to me than unlimited, I'm stuck firmly on VZW.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You could try reading a book

  24. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down

    Nearly right

    - That was about T-muddle, but same idea, different hat.

    You can't trust 'phone companies.

  25. UncleZoot

    Unlimited means just that, unlimited

    I use an iPhone 4 with Verizon and was forced into the unlimited plan when I signed up a couple of years back. I'm a fairly heavy user,at least by my standards, using between 4-6 gb per month. I do use wifi whenever available.

    I inquired about the all in one plan if I were to get a new IPhone 5 and was informed that I would need the $40 a month unlimited phone and texting plan and then the data plan for another $80 per month.

    While I'd like a new phone, I'll be sticking with my unlimited plan until I decide a solution around the new service plans.

  26. wayne 8
    Paris Hilton

    how much data is unlimited per month?

    There is a limit to the amount of data used in a month. For some that amount is a much smaller number than for others. For no one is it actually an unlimited number.

    One cannot consume unlimited amounts. Like eating an infinite number of walnuts a month. There is a limit, the number of walnuts will always be a finite number.

    If a family has a number of devices and a mix of those types, they might actually save money. My son had unlimited 3G data, and I have a 3G tablet, a 4G jetpack (mobile WAP), and a 4G phone, each of those device had 2Gb of data that wasn't being consumed efficiently. Put them all together under a 6Gb 4G share plan and I save $50 a month and have some unused capacity each month.

    Verizon does not use the word "unlimited" for the share everything plans. They do not claim that the share everything plans are "unlimited". You pay for what you use. What is wrong with each subscriber paying for their usage?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Promise is just a word

    said Nick Clegg, but I apologize for it, as some, particularly young voters seem to have taken it literally.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bonzo Dog

    "That will be 2 weeks"

    "But the sign outside says "24 hour cleaners""

    "That's just the name of the shop, dear"

    From 'Shirt' by the Bonzos.

    1. The Boojum

      Re: Bonzo Dog

      Extremely big smile.

      Everyone else look up the lyrics.

  29. IT Hack

    Cunt is also just a word right?

    Also how is that not misrepresentation? Surely the fine print invalidating the sales pitch counts as misrepresentation? Then again I'm not a lowlife lawyer/ I guess I will never understand the mindset of these "people".

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Unlimited" data and several acres of tropical paradise

    Once upon a time, we had a USB 3G data stick as we had acess to no other high speed option. We paid about $100 a month (!) for "unlimited" data. We carefully confirmed that "unlimited" meant unlimited, as opposed to 5GB. We treated it as if it were true (20GB month). After a while we received a letter from the carrier. ... The battle began. ... We got the regulators involved. ... When the smoke cleared, we used the settlement to significantly assist with the purchase of serveral acres of tropical paradise.

    Most jurisdictions have formal processes that can be exercised when telcos misbehave. It can be well worthwhile. Don't roll over on them; it only encourages them to continue to misbehave.

  31. Christian Berger

    In a nutshell

    Every company believes in something called "growth". It means that everything will be more and more. So it's only rational to expect there to be more and more data transmitted on the network.

    That is why I, as a customer pay money. I pay it not only for the ISPs and mobile companies to run and maintain their networks, but also so they can constantly upgrade the networks to suit the growing demand.

    Ideally the usual peak utilization should stay at about 50% so if one of the redundant links goes down, nobody will notice.

    It used to be that way when engineers were in charge. Their main objective was to provide as good as possible service given budget constraints. However now it seems the ISPs strive to reduce the spending, while keeping the cost up, hoping that most ISPs will do the same and blame users on the problem. This works great for big ISPs and in countries without any real competition. Their misinformation has worked so well people believe that regular bottlenecks in the ISPs network are normal, and that data somehow costs significant amounts of money.

  32. cd

    Another word that could be used is FCC Complaint.

  33. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    US cell co situation.

    So to enlighten anyone across the pond about the data situation here...

    In general, Verizon and AT&T have operated as the "top tier" but have been pretty expensive. Sprint and T-Mobile are much less expensive but have less extensive networks.

    Verizon has a pretty good network. Their 3G is slow in some markets (and it's EVDO so it won't top 3.1mbps under any conditions.) The 4G rollout is fast and expanding rapidly (over 75% by population, and probably 30% by area, of VZW's network is 4G, and the rest is all 3G.) But, they had $30 unlimited. Then $30 for 2GB (and more for more data, up to like $80 or so for 10GB).. Now, for "shared data", they charge (above the usual $10 a line) $20 a line for normal phones or $30 for smartphones, just to access some shared data that you also have to purchase -- and not at a substantial discount compared to the previous 2GB through 10GB plans. Luckily I picked up a 4G phone on the last day you could get a subsidized 4G phone and keep unlimited.

    AT&T is similar now with high cost data and shared data plans, they do not have as much 4G (actual 4G LTE... they claim a lot of 4G by calling their 3G network 4G now). They have lots of EDGE out in the sticks still, some reportedly quite slow.

    Sprint has true unlimited, reportedly their 3G network can get rather slow. They are moving their 4G from Wimax to LTE.

    T-Mobile has no concrete 4G plan as far as I know (probably LTE), but they are achieving 4G-like speeds by running 42mbps HSPA+ in some markets, with the rest being 21mbps. Reportedly it's pretty fast; they have a lot of EDGE though. It's not true unlimited, but instead of charging cash overages, they throttle your data when you hit your limit. You can buy more data to get your speeds back up if you want.

    In my local area, Verizon has 4G, US Cellular has 4G, Sprint, AT&T, and IWireless have 3G. IWireless still has unlimited everything for $50. Sweet. US Cellular had always done $30 for 5GB, now it is $30 for 2GB.


    Now that that is out of the way -- The crux of the problem to me is these carriers are installing technology that makes the cost per byte lower, then charging more for it. I do realize true unlimited is really not feasible -- at 512kbps (which is a modest speed) that's 150GB a month, at 10mbps you could suck down over 3TB a month. I've seen a peak of 58mbps off 4G when i was in the northeast (Verizon owns the fiber so I'm sure the sites get fat pipes), and driving through several other cities the 4G was up in the 20s or 30s. Locally I get like 5-10mbps in some areas and 20mbps in others. Still better than a kick in the nuts.

    So it'd be easy to use ridiculous amounts of data. I should note my highest use ever has been 8GB, so I'm not someone wining about unlimited because they want to use huge amounts of data.

    I do think a throttling setup ala T-Mobile is quite customer friendly.

    Another nice setup that at least one satellite internet company here uses is buckets. You get a xMB/day bucket that fills at yKB/sec. Overnight, they turn the bucket off and you get whatever your "full" speed is. In the morning you get a full bucket, and get full speed until you empty that bucket, then yKB/sec. When your use drops off the bucket refills.

  34. Jason Tan

    "I agree to pay for my service" - just words on a contract

    "I agree to pay for my service"

    Those are "just words" on my contract.

    They don;t mean I'll actually give you money.

    How dumb do you have to be to not understand that if every one gets to redefine words as they want, no one gets paid?

    Obviously Verizon execs are dumber than the relevant threshhold of dumbness.

  35. DF118

    'Unlimited' data is just a word

    If I'm gonna die for a word, that word would be "poontang".

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just some more words I hope turn out to be hollow for this chump.

    Bonus, Salary, Employment, Golden Handshake.

  37. Matt_payne666

    A word is meaningless...

    I hate people sometimes....

    the whole point of a word is to convey a meaning...

    I challenge him to walk upto the president and greet him by the term 'N****R' or go onto national TV and call the Chinese Premier a 'C***K'

    Hell, I wonder what the reacation would be if he went on live TV and called all his customers 'useless c**ts who are only good for revinue streams' just a bunch of meaning less words... what harm could they do............

  38. wayne 8
    Paris Hilton

    Still stuck on that word "unlimited"

    Verizon is not selling unlimited data plans anymore. They are gone. If you have unlimited it is grandfathered in if you pay full retail for the device.

    Verizon is not advertising "unlimited data." They have moved on from "unlimited data."

    The network is top quality in the USA. It takes a lot of capital to build out the network infrastructure and it is expensive to provide quality support for the network. The call centers are located in the USA.

    It is not a monopoly, the customers have a choice.

    Paris, because even she has limits.

  39. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Doesn't matter

    That's right, they aren't selling unlimited plans any more (for data -- they are for voice and text). But, then, why are they even talking about unlimited "just being a word" then? The thing is, other's DO have unlimtied -- Sprint has true unlimited, locally IWireless has true unlimited, and T-Mobile has both MUCH cheaper per GB costs AND just throttles when you hit that cap instead of charging cash overages (i.e. "unlimited" if you're not in a big hurry.)

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like