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Verizon's unlimited data turnabout prevents total disaster – CNET

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Verizon is offering an unlimited data plan again.


Richard B. Levine, Corbis via Getty Images

Sometimes admitting you’re wrong can be cathartic.

In Verizon’s case, it was a chance to get past its denial that unlimited data plans are, in fact, a thing people want. On numerous occasions, the company shut the door on the idea of bringing back an unlimited data plan. In an ad blitz in January, Verizon suggested customers were better off on its 5 gigabyte plan instead.

“At the end of the day, people don’t need unlimited plans,” former Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said in a September interview.

While you may not necessarily need unlimited, you absolutely want it. In January, T-Mobile went all-in on its unlimited option, removing all other options in January. AT&T and Sprint also touted their own all-you-can-eat options. (Check out all the different plans here.)

Then in February, Verizon quietly brought back its own unlimited plan for the first time in seven years.

After the New York telecommunications giant reported results on Tuesday, it’s clear why.

The New York telecommunications said on Thursday that it lost 289,000 phone customers in the first quarter, compared to adding 167,000 in the fourth quarter. But it could have been much, much worse. Prior to the launch of its unlimited plan, the carrier had already lost 398,000 phone customers in the period, and the company attributed its new plan to a reversal of its trajectory.

The numbers underscore how important having an unlimited plan is to winning your business. Shortly after Verizon unveiled the plan, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T made tweaks to their plans to make them even more attractive, further illustrating the competitive nature of the business.

Beyond its tussles with the other carriers, Verizon is also busying itself with the acquisition of Yahoo, slated to close in June. The company didn’t offer much update on the deal beyond disclosures with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

For the first quarter, Verizon posted a profit of $3.55 billion, or 85 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, earnings were 95 cents a share, compared with a $1.06 a share a year ago. Revenue fell 7.3 percent to $29.81 billion.

Analysts, on average, forecast earnings of 97 cents a share and revenue of $30.57 billion.

Verizon shares fell 2.4 percent to $47.75 in pre-marketing trading.

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