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Verizon Rolling Out Unlimited Data Plan As FCC Leadership Changes

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

Verizon announced Sunday it’s offering an unlimited data plan, which seems to be part of a growing trend in competition as new FCC leadership takes over.

Verizon, which is the largest wireless provider in the U.S., added 591,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, according to The Chicago Tribune.

T-Mobile, a big rival in the telecommunications industry, reportedly gained double the amount of customers in that time period. T-Mobile started its new unlimited data plan in August.

“It offers a ‘fightback’ moment for the company,” Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst at Wells Fargo, said of Verizon. “This announcement sends a very strong message around the strength in the Verizon network.” (RELATED: Verizon CEO: Hillary Would Be Another 4 Years Of Obama)

The plan contradicts prior statements from the company’s leadership. The Verizon CEO was originally against unlimited data plans, saying it was an unsustainable model.

“Everything we’ve done is to provide the best experience on the best network – and we’ve built it for the future, not just for today,” said Ronan Dunne, president of Verizon’s wireless division, according to an official description of the plan. “We also fundamentally want you to have more choice. We’re not limiting you to a single plan. If you don’t need unlimited data, we still have 5 GB, S, M, and L Verizon plans that are perfect for you.”

AT&T also started selling unlimited data plans again early last year. (RELATED: AT&T CEO Bashes FCC, Says Net Neutrality Rules ‘Bad For The Industry’)

With Verizon now in the mix, companies appear to be providing consumers with a wider variety of plans in order to compete with one another.

The FCC in recent years fought against companies’ “unlimited” data plans arguing they were not actually unlimited and they were unfair for the consumer.

T-Mobile faced a backlash for a plan called “Binge On,” in which limits were imposed on video quality and data speed during certain periods of network congestion.

The FCC accused T-Mobile of not properly and thoroughly notifying customers of the restrictions to its “unlimited” data plan, and the two parties ultimately reached a $48 million settlement.

“The FCC’s investigation found that company policy allows it to slow down data speeds when T-Mobile or MetroPCS customers on so-called ‘unlimited’ plans exceed a monthly data threshold,” an official FCC press release reads.

With Verizon’s latest deal, smartphone owners can use as much data as they want, and still be charged the same amount; data speed can still be throttled and limited.

Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the FCC, is more worried about checking the agency’s power and removing regulations so companies can better compete and viably offer more for the consumer.

“I’m also optimistic that the FCC will once again respect the limits that Congress has placed on our authority. We can’t simply enact whatever we think is good public policy. We also have to make sure that we have the power to do so. But the Commission hasn’t done a very good job of that recently,” Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, said in a December speech. (RELATED: Trump Nomination Could Spell Disaster For Government’s Internet Takeover)

“We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation,” Pai continued.

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