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Thursday, May 17, 2012, 02:22 pm PT (05:22 pm ET)

Verizon clarifies stance on unlimited data amid misreported rumors

Verizon on Thursday issued a statement clarifying the position it will take with customers who currently have grandfathered unlimited data plans, reiterating that the all-you-can-eat option will only terminate when upgrading to a new subsidized smartphone.

The statement, which was sent via email to The New York Times, quelled specious reports that claimed current unlimited data subscribers would be forcibly moved to the upcoming capped shared data plans expected to launch this summer.

Customers with unlimited plans will continue to be grandfathered in to the new pricing model that allows multiple users to share data on a single contract. Once the new plans debut, subscribers who choose to take advantage of subsidized phone pricing when upgrading will no longer have the option to continue their all-you-can-eat service.

The emailed statement:

– Customers will not be automatically moved to new shared data plans. If a 3G or 4G smartphone customer is on an unlimited plan now and they do not want to change their plan, they will not have to do so.
– When we introduce our new shared data plans, Unlimited Data will no longer be available to customers when purchasing handsets at discounted pricing.
– Customers who purchase phones at full retail price and are on an unlimited smartphone data plan will be able to keep that plan.
– The same pricing and policies will be applied to all 3G and 4GLTE smartphones.

Contrary to erroneous reports around the web, it will likely take years to phase out unlimited data plans, though Verizon is definitely urging customers away from that model.

On Wednesday, the carrier's CFO Fran Shammo caused confusion by saying, "when [customers] "migrate off 3G they will have to go to data share." While this might be true in some cases, the company's stated policy clearly allows for the continuation of unlimited data access if customers pay full price for new handsets.