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Verizon will finally offer a true unlimited plan with no speed caps

  • Verizon Wireless said it would launch an unlimited plan next week with no speed caps for data use.
  • The announcement comes after firefighters, combating wildfires in California, had their data speeds throttled when using Verizon’s networks.
  • Verizon has since apologized and has removed all speed caps for those firefighters, along with first responders in Hawaii that are dealing with Hurricane Lane.

Verizon Wireless is finally going to offer a truly unlimited plan for its phone customers — but it took a natural disaster to make it happen. Today, the nation’s biggest wireless carrier revealed that it will launch this new unlimited plan next week, “with no caps on mobile solutions.”

This announcement only came about because Verizon was found to be throttling data on its “unlimited” plan by the Santa Clara County, California fire department. The firefighters are currently trying to control and put out the Mendocino Complex Fire, which has become the largest wildfire in the state’s history.

The throttling claim was put into an addendum for an ongoing lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission.  The lawsuit (via Ars Technica) is trying to force the government agency to relaunch its net neutrality rules that it repealed earlier this year. In that addendum, the Santa Clara County fire department claims that Verizon’s speed caps affected an emergency vehicle that it used as a command and control point to help organize resources and people from across the entire state, and even the country, to help battle this wildfire.

The addendum said that the department discovered Verizon’s data throttling, which it claimed “severely interfered” with the emergency vehicle’s ability to work properly.  Under the department’s plan with Verizon, speed caps might be hit if data use goes over 25GB before the monthly billing period ends. The department claims that when it contacted Verizon on this matter, the carrier said it would only lift the speed caps if the department switched to a new unlimited plan, which cost twice as much as the previous plan. Ironically, it’s Verizon’s policy to remove throttling restrictions when asked by fire departments in emergency situations at no additional cost.

In its own statement after the lawsuit addendum was filed, Verizon denied that this move was related to net neutrality. However, it did admit that the Santa Clara County fire department should not have had to pay for a more expensive plan just to lift the speed caps in this situation, calling this move “a customer support mistake”.  In today’s new statement, Verizon apologized to the department and added it has lifted all throttling caps for those firefighters, along with the emergency departments that are currently dealing with the effects of Hurricane Lane in Hawaii.

The news about the new unlimited plan with no speed caps was buried in Verizon’s statement. The carrier said more details about the plan will be revealed next week when it officially launches.  It did say that it will make it easy for customers to upgrade to this new plan “at no additional cost”. There’s no word on how much this plan will cost for new customers. Just a few weeks ago, the carrier announced a new plan called Above Unlimited, which costs $95 a month for one line and throttles data for customers if they reach 75GB of data before the billing period ends.

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