There’s been a lot of hubbub this week for Verizon’s “grandfathered” unlimited data customers, who are concerned that their all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of 3G and 4G LTE will end when the company introduces new shared data plans this summer. Verizon has updated their statement, assuring unlimited customers that they don’t have to sign a new contract if they don’t want to. Of course, that also means that they’ll be ineligible for the discounted pricing on new phones, without which most mid-range and high-end Android devices become prohibitively expensive.

The basic gist is this: if you sign a new contract after the summer, even if it’s extending your current contract, you lose unlimited data. The only way to get a new phone (such as, say, the Verizon-bound Galaxy S III) and keep unlimited is to purchase it outright. Most of the headlining Verizon phones, like the DROID RAZR MAXX, HTC Rezound and Galaxy Nexus, go for a whopping $649 without a contract discount.

That’s a lot of money to spend to hand on to unlimited data. On the plus side, it means that you’re free to go to another service provider if you get sick and tired of Verizon’s nickel-and-dime policies. As an unlimited customer myself (who’s long past his upgrade date), I must say that it’s a definite option, especially considering the lack of new power phones in Verizon’s lineup for the last few months. If I’m going to have to spend a ton of money anyway, I might as well get an unlocked phone and buy a Straight Talk unlimited SIM card.

In any case, the message for current unlimited users is clear: switch to tiered data, pay up, or get out. It’s frustrating to see wireless companies increase their spectrum, bandwidth and capabilities while all the time demanding more money for less data. Those of you who are unlimited on Verizon and eligible for an upgrade, get one soon to lock in your rates for another two years.

[via SlashGear]