Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of Verizon's Above Unlimited plan.
Verizon has a new unlimited plan, one it hopes will appeal to the heaviest data users.
Called "Above Unlimited," the new plan is available starting June 18 and is priced at $20 more per line, per month than the company’s cheapest unlimited offering.
For that extra buck, you are getting a bit more bang, with up to 75 GB of high-speed data before you might be slowed down in areas of network congestion, 500 GB of Verizon’s Cloud storage for backing up your phone and 20 GB of mobile hot spot for turning your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot. Verizon will also throw in five “TravelPasses,” or the ability to use your phone overseas for a 24-hour period without incurring roaming fees.
After the major telecom carriers brought back unlimited data plans, they've been vying with each other to add features and options in a bid to gain customers. Whereas other carriers have bundled in video services such as HBO, Hulu and Netflix, Verizon is hoping a data option for the heaviest users will help it stand out.
The new plan is $10 pricier than the company's now middle-tier "Beyond" plan that offers unlimited data at up 22 GB before it might slow down, 720p HD video streaming and 15 GB of mobile hot spot data.
Also new for Verizon: the ability to mix and match Verizon’s unlimited plans, allowing a family of four, for example, to give its lowest data users the cheapest "Go" option, its higher users the middle "Beyond" plan and its heaviest users the "Above" offering.
"Today we're declaring the end of the 'one-size-fits-all' family plan," Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon's wireless division, told USA TODAY.
"Essentially what we're recognizing is that not everybody uses their phone in the same way," Dunne said.
Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all have previously offered two tiers of unlimited plans depending on what users were willing to pay for. These cheaper options, which usually include unlimited data plus video streaming in DVD quality, are usually available for $160 for four lines. A second, pricier option has added features including the ability to stream in HD and the ability to turn your phone into a faster, portable Wi-Fi hot spot for other devices.
For AT&T, the jump to its "Unlimited Plus" premium unlimited plan costs $190 per month for four lines while Verizon's "Beyond" unlimited plan is $200 per month. T-Mobile's "One Plus" option, an extra $10 per line, per month would also be $200 per month for a family of four, assuming all four had the highest data option. (T-Mobile's price also includes taxes and fees.)
Sprint, which said Wednesday that it will be ending its aggressive $15 per line, per month offer to customers who switch networks, currently only offers one unlimited plan that is $100 a month for four lines until June 30, 2019. After that date, it is $160 per month.
Verizon's new Above plan would raise that rate to $240 for four lines if all four were on the highest tier.
Is it worth it?
The pricing and features for Verizon's current unlimited plans are not changing — all offer unlimited high-speed data.
So what do you get from this pricier plan? Faster speeds in a crowded concert or large sporting event when there are a lot of people on Verizon's network.
In the event of a congested network, those who are on the cheaper Go plan would see their data slowed first, followed by those on the Beyond plan who have used more than 22 GB of data in that month.
If you are a heavy data user who is constantly watching videos, video chatting and posting to social media over 4G, this new plan would buy you some leeway from ever being slowed down. Those wondering how much data they use can find out by going to the company's MyVerizon app.
It is worth noting, however, that while data at these times may be slowed, these slowdowns are only temporary, and once the network clears (or you exit the crowded venue) you should see your speeds go back to normal.
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal