More customers are moving to Verizon Wireless' "Share Everything" plan than the carrier anticipated, Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said today.
Not only are more customers switching to the shared offering, Shammo said, but they're also adding more devices than Verizon had expected. And a lot of those people are customers who previously had unlimited data plans.
"We're surprised on share from many different aspects," Shammo said during a Goldman Sachs investor conference presentation in New York. "The thing that really surprises us is a lot of people are coming off unlimited to go to share."
He noted that many customers don't use as much data as they thought, and they're comfortable moving off unlimited plans once they learn how much data they use.
"Unlimited is just a word," said Shammo, whose speech was broadcast via the Web. "It doesn't really mean anything....The whole unlimited thing is going by the wayside."
Shammo did not offer any specific numbers.
Of course, unlimited plan customers don't have much choice if they want Verizon to subsidize their newest phone purchases. Verizon, the nation's biggest wireless provider, moved to a shared data plan in June and killed off unlimited data for new customers and for current ones who upgrade their phone. If current customers choose to pay full price for a new phone -- say, $649 for the cheapest version of the iPhone 5 versus $199 subsidized -- they can keep their unlimited plan.
Verizon and rival AT&T, which has launched a similar plan, like the shared offering partly because it encourages the use of multiple devices and boosts customer loyalty. But Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile have taken a different tack and have maintained their unlimited offerings. The two smaller carriers lag their bigger rivals in building next-generation wireless networks, and they're counting on unlimited data to help them attract and retain customers.
Meanwhile, Shammo said today that Verizon's LTE network gives it a strategic advantage for selling the iPhone 5, something Sprint CEO Dan Hesse also acknowledged yesterday. The latest version of Apple's device is the first to run on the high-speed network, and customers are expected to upgrade to the iPhone 5 in record numbers in part because of LTE.
Shammo declined to provide details about iPhone 5 preorder volumes. The device hits store shelves tomorrow.