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Cellphones Businesses The Almighty Buck Wireless Networking

Verizon Droid Tethering Comes At a Hefty Price 555

Posted by timothy
from the unlimited-and-5GB-are-not-the-same dept.
Pickens writes "Tom Bradley reports in PC World that the new Motorola Droid smartphone will cost users $199.99 with a 2-year contract, with an additional $30 per month for the mandatory 'unlimited' data plan that has a monthly cap of 5Gb. Verizon will charge $50 for each additional gigabyte over the 5Gb limit on the unlimited data plan. Verizon has confirmed that tethering will cost another $30 per month for an additional unlimited data plan that is also limited to 5Gb. If you want tethering you will pay $60 above and beyond the monthly contract for service for an 'unlimited' 10Gb of data per month, and if you plan on connecting with an Microsoft Exchange email account you have to pay another $15 a month. 'Verizon seems to be doing everything it can to make the Droid as unappealing as possible by nickel and diming customers so that actually using it is not cost-effective,' writes Bradley. 'After all of the hype around Verizon's marketing efforts, and generally favorable reviews of the Motorola Droid, users that rush out to get the new device may be in for a shock.' Droid users will have to wait until sometime in 2010 for tethering. 'That service is on our schedule for next year,' says Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney. The delay is because 'the service has to be tested on the phone so until we know it works, we don't offer the service. It is not uncommon for us to introduce the phone and continue to test the service and offer it later.'"
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Verizon Droid Tethering Comes At a Hefty Price

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:00AM (#30031410)

    If the plan is limited, it's not "unlimited", so please stop pretending. No, any cap is a cap is not no cap is not "unlimited". How many marketeers do you need to fire to stop believing otherwise, verizon?

  • Free market (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fotograf (1515543) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:01AM (#30031422) Homepage
    they are free to kill their sales and nobody should be in urge to stop them
  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:04AM (#30031442)

    Verizon has confirmed that tethering will cost another $30 per month for an additional unlimited data plan that is also limited to 5Gb.

    I LOL'ed at this one. An unlimited data plan limited to "5Gb." What a country!

  • How the hell? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skirmish666 (1287122) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:05AM (#30031450)
    How are Verizon getting away with calling a plan with a 5GB cap unlimited? Where I'm from there are laws against that. What, unlimited as long as your credit card is unlimited too? That dog won't hunt mont senior.
  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:05AM (#30031462) Homepage

    So does that mean that you can only get a Droid telephone with a verizon account?

    If so, there's your problem: your markets for mobile telecom are vendor-locked, and thus not very free. Say what you might about the EU, they really whipped the mobile telco's into submission and as such, we don't have a system where your phone is branded by the telco. Incidentally, Apple is trying to push such a model to Europe, but people here are not buying into it.

    If not so, what's the big deal? Just buy the droid and don't choose Verizon as your provider.

  • by ultraexactzz (546422) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:08AM (#30031494) Journal
    It seems like there would be some agency to complain to when a company advertises something that isn't true...
  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:5, Insightful)

    by richlv (778496) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:09AM (#30031502)

    couldn't some group of americans sue the shit out of dumbass companies who use misleading marketing - calling something with a cap "unlimited" should result in their whole marketing department fired and any manager who approved it receiving hefty financial fine.

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:09AM (#30031508) Journal
    You should see the fine print that we've managed to cram into "land of the free"...
  • Say what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:13AM (#30031546)

    Am I reading this right? They call the 5GB a month plan "unlimited", and charge $50 PER additional gigabyte (when they were perfectly willing to accept $6/gigabyte before you went over the limit)

    Why don't they control usage another way? Say, if you go over 5GB a month, your data rates get slashed to 1/5 or 1/10 the normal speed, and the phone gives you an OPTION to pay an additional fee if you want your full speed restored. I actually think a cap is a good thing FOR PHONES because radio spectrum is a finite resource. Verizon only owns so much spectrum, and using current modulation technology, can only send so much data through the air in a particular cell at one time. There are high tech ways around this problem, but they cost a lot of money, and heavy users should pay more.

    But they way they are doing this is just a trap basically. I bet the phone doesn't even tell you if you go over the limit, unless you look in some deeply buried menu. They are just setting you up for a huge bill during that one month when you actually use the phone's internet capabilities to their full potential.

    And the phone had so much promise. They say the screen kicks the ass of the iphone, and that the CALL QUALITY is vastly clearer and better. I believe it - I had a CDMA phone years ago, and I recall it being nearly as clear and stable a connection as a land-line. Darn nokia phone would work everywhere as well. I've never, ever gotten service this good through ATT.

  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:18AM (#30031586) Homepage
    Early adopters always get the shaft. You keep your wallet in your pocket and within months, the wave of competition with ensure that you made a very wise (and obvious) decision.
  • by kieran (20691) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:19AM (#30031588)

    Mod parent up - Funny or insightful, pick one.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:20AM (#30031612) Homepage

    My wife and I pay about $119/month for "unlimited" data and 200 text messages each per iPhone. We get no reliable signal in most of Virginia past Prince William County unless we are on a major state highway. There are places where Verizon would be 5 bars that AT&T doesn't even get signal at all, and by that I mean not even Edge.

    The moral of the story? You get what you pay for. Verizon may be more expensive, but AT&T is a perfect example of what happens when a telecom doesn't plan ahead for getting the kind of revenue it needs to really build out its network. I wasn't very happy with Verizon's customer service, or their phone selection a year ago, but they obviously put that money SOMEWHERE good since I can't remember any place other than inside the Luray and Skyline caverns where my phone didn't get a signal with Verizon...

  • Re:Say what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:26AM (#30031658) Homepage Journal

    I actually think a cap is a good thing FOR PHONES because radio spectrum is a finite resource.

    it's fine if you don't advertise as unlimited. That's fraud. Why it is protected when cellphone companies do it, I don't know.

    I believe it - I had a CDMA phone years ago, and I recall it being nearly as clear and stable a connection as a land-line.

    It has nothing to do with ATT vs. Verizon or GSM vs. CDMA, it's all about your phone. My RAZR V3i gave better call quality than my V500 upg. to V600 (or wtfever it was exactly, I lent my backup phone to someone who destroyed it.)

  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:30AM (#30031698) Homepage
    They're not going to stop lying until they're legally instructed to - this practice of misleading customers has almost certainly a positive effect on their sales. Average Joe's don't see asterisks.
  • or... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jipn4 (1367823) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:30AM (#30031708)

    Or you can just use any unlocked Symbian phone on a GSM carrier and tether it to your heart's content. And in most places other than the US, that's exactly what you're supposed to do. You know, $30/month 5Gbyte data plans and all that.

    Mind you, Symbian sucks as a phone OS compared to Android, but Android really needs to get Symbian-like tethering. And Verizon's data plans are laughably expensive.

  • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:36AM (#30031776) Journal

    If the plan is limited, it's not "unlimited", so please stop pretending. No, any cap is a cap is not no cap is not "unlimited".

    Actually, all "unlimited" plans are limited. Just multiply maximum bandwidth by days in the month to figure out your monthly cap. So the question here is if 5 GB is less than Verizon's "3G" speed multiplied by about 30 days. It would be nice if someone with Verizon could figure this out.

  • Re:Free market (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:38AM (#30031800)
    Just out of curiosity, how can a wireless company tell whether or not you're tethering, when you run a device that can run pretty much any sort of software? Also, is a wireless proxy considered tethering? It seems to be quirte ridiculous to charge for a specific amount of bandwidth and then not let you actually use it.
  • Re:Free market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:41AM (#30031822)

    I should have expected that Verizon would come up with an 'unlimited' but capped at 5 GB plan. Guess it'll be the iPhone after all.

    So you don't want to get the Droid, because Verizon is evil and calls their plan unlimited when it's really 5 GB/month. Fair enough. Then, you decide to turn to the iPhone, where Apple pulls apps because they dare to compete with AT&T? I hate to be the one to tell you, but you're trading one evil master for another, not getting a better situation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:45AM (#30031856)

    The leadoff negative point about the droid is that he doesn't like the way the back of the phone looks because you can see the battery cover. Come on, that's ridiculous. Most of use the front of the phone.

  • Gb or GB (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:54AM (#30031938)

    It still surprises me that people still cannot tell the difference between Gb (Gigabit) and GB (Gigabyte)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:55AM (#30031954)

    There are many other ways to tether your computer to a smart phone other than the Verizon approved way. These are, of course, against the terms of service, but are still relativley simple and much cheaper than $30 a month.

  • Re:Tethering (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @09:59AM (#30031996)

    Verizon will charge $50 for each additional gigabyte over the 5Gb limit on the unlimited data plan

    Buh? Wha? Parsing failure. Unlimited...charging for additional usage.....BRAIN ASPLODE

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ender- (42944) <doubletwist@fear ... in.net minus cat> on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:01AM (#30032008) Homepage Journal

    That was tried in the UK with ADSL providers advertising "unlimited" broadband. They got around it by reclassifying exactly what is unlimited - it is now "unlimited access" so at any time 24/7/365.25 you can have access, but it isn't unlimited bandwidth.

    Except that the website does not advertise "unlimited access". The text on the website reads, and I quote, "Unlimited Data for Mobile Web and Get it Now/Media Center".

    It says quite clearly, "unlimited data". I know that Verizon [and the other telcos] will happily fight and say there's fine print somewhere that says otherwise, but please, there *HAS* to be some lawyer out there who's good enough to get a judge to realize that this is nothing but false advertising, and some pretty obvious bait-and-switch tactics.

  • by God'sDuck (837829) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:01AM (#30032010)
    Wired's survey put Verizon's 3G network at an average of 1.9 Mbps / ~240 KBps. If that's the case, we're talking 12 minutes of saturation per day. http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/07/3g-speed-test/ [wired.com]
  • Re:Free market (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NetRanger (5584) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:15AM (#30032180) Homepage

    The problem with the "free market" is it isn't free -- the big players have made sure that nobody will ever be able to compete with them thanks to lock-ins, onerous penalties on contracts, and other anti-competitive measures. Not to mention the billions of dollars necessary to start a cell phone service on a national level.

    "Free markets" are a myth; you either have regulation or monopoly. Neither of which are very desirable, but that's the way things work outside an Ayn Rand book.

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asdf7890 (1518587) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:18AM (#30032232)

    It says quite clearly, "unlimited data".

    Fair catch. But win this one in court and then they just point out that it says nothing about guaranteed rates. Used more then 1Gb? 1Kbyte/sec maximum it is for you then.

    there *HAS* to be some lawyer out there who's good enough to get a judge to realize that this is nothing but false advertising, and some pretty obvious bait-and-switch tactics.

    Oh there no doubt is. But the people who want him to fight the case can't afford his fees, and the people who would prefer he didn't can afford to keep him busy elsewhere.

  • by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:20AM (#30032256)

    Yes, the Federal Trade Commission [wikipedia.org]. Their teeth are about as sharp and fearsome as an earthworm:

    The goal is prevention rather than punishment, reflecting the purpose of civil law in setting things right rather than that of criminal law. The typical sanction is to order the advertiser to stop its illegal acts, or to include disclosure of additional information that serves to avoid the chance of deception. Corrective advertising may be mandated. But there are no fines or prison time except for the infrequent instances when an advertiser refuses to stop despite being ordered to do so. [emphasis added]

    So, kind of like a police officer running after a purse-snatcher yelling, "Stop! Or I'll yell stop again!"

  • Re:Overhyped (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aerogems (339274) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:23AM (#30032286)
    You've never used the Droid have you?

    Unlike the iPhone, the Droid has removable storage, so apps can be split between the phone's onboard storage and the memory card. Google is also working on a way to introduce loading off of SD cards, similar to apps2sd. So, as an example, you could have the main DOOM binary file on the phone's memory, and the WAD file on the memory card.

    The physical keyboard's fine. Yes, it might have been better if it were thicker, but it's hardly the worst keyboard out there. And since it doesn't take up half the bloody screen, I prefer it. The store mock-up units have a keyboard that's nearly impossible to press down, but that's not how it is with actual units. When they gutted the phone of anything valuable to put on display, they probably took out the bits behind the keyboard. I've only used the on screen keyboard for a few simple things, like entering my YouMail PIN, but it seems just as good as the iPhone's portrait keyboard. Which is to say they both suck, and take up half the bloody screen.

    There is multi-touch, but something people seem to have problems understanding is that pinch zoom != multi-touch. I don't understand the fascination with pinch zooming anyway. It seems a completely unnatural way to use your phone to me.

    My Droid is amazingly fast. At least as fast as I remember the 3GS being the about 2 weeks I had one. Even some of the areas reviews says it lags a little, I'm not seeing it. My Droid ranks right up there with the iPhone and has multi-tasking.

    The Droid's browser is based on the same WebKit engine Safari and Safari Mobile are, so you might want to know what it is you're knocking before you actually knock it. Because right now, you're basically attacking the foundation for your beloved iPhone's Safari Mobile. So in case that was too subtle... To say that the Droid browser sucks is to say that the iPhone's browser sucks, because they're based on the same rendering engine. Actually, the Droid's browser is based on a more recent version of WebKit than the iPhone. This may well change with the next OS update, but for the present time... Also, while I'm as big a supporter of open standards as the next person, from a pragmatic standpoint let's be honest. Being 100% ACID compliant doesn't really mean much. The bulk of the web pages out there are generated by some program, or just poorly written in general. And so long as Internet Explorer, with it's rather spotty standards support, remains the dominate browser, that is what people are going to be writing to. Very few people will use features that aren't supported by Internet Explorer, so until Microsoft starts setting its sights a bit higher with regards to standards support, passing the ACID tests is really just one of those feel-good-do-nothing sort of things. It's unfortunate, I wish it weren't the case, but that doesn't change the way things are. If I could change the world just because I wanted something to be a certain way, I'd probably have about 10 different supermodel wives who are complete nymphos. Sadly I don't.

    The camera is maybe a bit sub-par for a high end phone, and allegedly there's a fix in the works, but honestly for a cell phone camera, virtually every photo I've seen taken with it is pretty good. I don't expect $500+ DSLR level quality out of a cell phon camera myself, but there are apparently some people who fancy themselves some kind of great and glorious master photographer, yet refuse to use anything more than a cell phone camera. I just sit and scratch my head in a strange mix of confusion and curiosity when I encounter these people.

    The Droid supports more formats than the iPhone, out of the box, from my recollection. The media player app that ships by default may be rather spartan, but this is another one of those things I wonder about. Do you want a cell phone or an MP3 player? Any company that tries to make a device that's everything to everyone will generally fail at doing both. I can understand having some basic abi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:26AM (#30032318)

    Can everyone please give themselves a reality check and stop whining about the 5GB cap?

    1) It's high time the geek community understood that bandwidth isn't free. Low-usage customers always have and probably always will subsidize high-usage customers. This is how landline ISPs do it, and even they are unofficially capping usage for users who consistently eat up crazy amounts of bandwidth. If you're downloading multiple terabytes every month, you're slowing down your ISP's "series of tubes" for everyone else, and you either need to get throttled back or pay a lot more for your share.

    The only alternative is a pay-per-byte model -- so please, keep up the whining, let us know how you like it when your browsing/streaming/torrent/pr0n habits start costing you $500/month, while your mainstream neighbors are only paying $10/month for shopping online and checking their email.

    2) Who the f*ck cares if they call it "unlimited"? The 5GB cap is well documented and well-known. Sure you have to read a little fine print (which isn't even all that hidden anymore), but if you're a remotely tech-savvy user, you're probably reading forums like this one and are acutely aware of the 5GB cap anyway. And for 99% of users, 5GB/month on a cell phone may as well be unlimited.

    How about you put all that whining energy into protesting overall costs. You can start with the ridiculous 20 cents for a text message. Feel free to attack the $30 5GB/month data plan too. And those overage charges, yeesh, please have a go at those too.

  • by DougReed (102865) on Monday November 09, 2009 @10:30AM (#30032366)

    Verizon sells 'Unlimited' data plans that cap out at 5 Gb. AT&T advertises the 'fastest 3g network' with 'more bars in more places' with the smallest 3g network of any carrier. And that's just the wireless carriers. There is so much blatant advertising fraud on American TV anymore, yet nobody seems to notice or care.
    I can see how AT&T can argue their lies aren't .. They have 'the fastest 3g network' even if it's only available at the stop sign in on main street in Barstow California, and nowhere does it say that the more bars are 3g bars. As long as there is a signal, they are covered, and they don't say more bars than who? But I cannot imagine how Verizon can argue can argue that a 5Gb limit is 'Unlimited'. It's all fraudulent by intent, but since there is no morality in advertising, I guess it can exist, but 5Gb 'Unlimited' access I would think is actionable. Maybe Pamela Jones can explain it all to us.

  • by Nerdposeur (910128) on Monday November 09, 2009 @11:12AM (#30033024) Journal

    Actually, all "unlimited" plans are limited. Just multiply maximum bandwidth by days in the month to figure out your monthly cap.

    While you're technically correct, I don't think that most people understand "unlimited" to mean "infinite." I wouldn't say that I have "limited" water at home, even though, yes, technically, I can only fill a finite number of buckets in a month.

    There's a big difference between "we're cutting you off" and "you can have as much as we can physically give you."

  • by nvrrobx (71970) on Monday November 09, 2009 @11:52AM (#30033624) Homepage

    The summary is not wrong. You may be lucky to not be caught, but my brother and his wife were - they had an absolutely outrageous bill.

    They were suckered in by Verizon's "unlimited" wording. They lived in rural Texas where no other form of broadband (except satellite) was feasible. They got the USB modem and used it, until the first month's bill showed up for nearly $1000. (The wife loves her MySpace and Facebook and YouTube)

    You can claim it's their fault all you want, but expecting non-computer savvy people to understand what 5GB is, and the fact that it's not "unlimited" like they state is deceiving and unethical.

  • Re:Tethering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackest_k (761565) on Monday November 09, 2009 @12:12PM (#30033898) Homepage Journal

    well if you are happy with these plans fair enough, but here in Ireland I'm paying 20 a month for 15gb hspda and can use it for what I want. even on a pay as you go no contract deal its 25 for 10gb a month.

    regular broadband plans cost about 50 if you take in the line rental.

    Admit it the American telco's are ripping you off and stop apologizing for their abusive behaviour

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday November 09, 2009 @12:35PM (#30034246) Homepage

    Indeed - almost all of the cell providers should be fined for deceptive trade practices the way they sucker people into huge bills - all agreed to in fine print.

    All of this would be fixed by a very simple law - anybody ought to be able to set a limit on their monthly bill. If I call up evilphoneco and tell them that my cell phone bill is capped at $90 per month, then I don't care WHAT services I consume - they can't charge me more than $90 per month. It is their job to keep me from using services I haven't paid for - not my job to avoid accidentally incurring them. And no incurring of debts either - if they deliver me $10k worth of services they can bill me $90 once and then we're even.

    Oh, the second part of that law would be that everybody's cap starts out at whatever their basic monthly rate is. Unless somebody specifically requests a higher limit they couldn't be charged for any "optional" services.

    And no giving people limited choices like $10/month or unlimited only. People should be able to name their own limits as arbitrarily as they'd like.

    It seems like phone companies depend on people making $500 mistakes with their cell phones, and they almost count on people doing it. They get zero mercy when it happens. At best they might be offered an option for $10 per month to cap their bill. That should NOT be something that costs money.

  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tunapez (1161697) on Monday November 09, 2009 @01:02PM (#30034690)

    "Unlimited Data for Mobile Web and Get it Now/Media Center".

    They are called "Mobile Web" and "GetItNow" because they are "custom connections", neither are traditional broadband connections and are subject to the rules the "offerer" decides to apply. Smoke and mirrors and half-truths, sure. That's what they do.

    That's why the Droid marketing was so short on facts and details before the release, they're playing it so the emotional consumers will buy it up before they realize they're getting gouged every month for the next two years(or pay the $300+ termination). Sue all you want, the lawyers will take your money faster than VZW will... hard to believe, but true.

  • Re:Tethering (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gabec (538140) on Monday November 09, 2009 @02:49PM (#30036300)

    OP is ranting to a degree that he's misrepresenting his case.

    First, all smartphones require this crappy extra $30/month fee. Blackberries, iphones... Droids. It sucks, but Droid isn't the bad guy here, it's every carrier.

    Second, tethering isn't supported for most smartphone plans on the major networks. You want it on your iphone, too bad. The iphone itself supports it (as does Droid obviously) and AT&T doesn't. Well, apparently they will, but they will charge extra, just like Verizon. (http://mashable.com/2009/10/08/iphone-tethering/) Once again, don't blame Droid / verizon, blame every carrier.

    So please don't blame the Droid or Verizon for this without including every other network and smartphone in the rant. =P

    (Though calling 5gb "unlimited" is pretty skeezy.)

    PS. Loving my droid, tethering or no. ;-)

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