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Summary:

Verizon iPhone users enjoy an unlimited $30 data plan today, but the carrier says these iPhone plans will change to a tiered model this summer. Smaller, cheaper plans could attract more customers to the carrier, but consumers won’t want to give up their current unlimited plans.

verizon-iphone-red

Verizon Wireless is apparently planning tiered pricing plans that would hit later this summer, according to Verizon CFO Fran Shammo who spoke at an investor conference Tuesday. Shammo, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference said Verizon is still working on the details but that such plans could include higher or lower charges based on speed, consumption or both variables.

Verizon already has a tiered pricing plan based on how much data is consumed for its USB dongles and personal hot spots that range from $50 to $80. However, it sounds like it is considering offering a smaller, and likely cheaper, plan for the iPhone to help encourage those that own feature phones to upgrade to the iPhone with a data plan. Already Verizon has seen upgrades in part because it kept its $30 unlimited smartphone data plan for the iPhone. However, Shammo indicated that unlimited plan would end some time this summer.

Shammo said Verizon will rely on the iPhone, its Android-based Droid line, and LTE to increase its smartphone penetration from 26 percent at the end of 2010 to 50 percent by the end of 2011. So far, since Verizon is the only game in town for LTE, it’s not surprising that Shammo said that 41 percent of the customers picking up LTE dongles at the end of last year were new to Verizon, but it’s still good growth.

As for those LTE users, Shammo wouldn’t disclose the amount of data they are sucking down except to say that he thinks people are using more than they anticipated, “which is obviously good for us.” However, he feels that will come down (and I imagine the tiered pricing might help with that.)

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