Updated. Thirteen months after rival AT&T stopped offering unlimited smartphone data plans, Verizon Wireless is ready to follow. New customers on or after July 7 will have to choose between
four three tiers of monthly data, ranging from 75 MB to 10 GB of mobile broadband service. Existing Verizon customers can keep their unlimited plans, even when upgrading their smartphones.
The new tiered plans have been rumored for months — Verizon signaled its intent last year and confirmed it this past March — but have just been confirmed today. Fierce Wireless received confirmation from Brenda Raney, a Verizon media spokesperson. The new monthly plan costs and limits break down as follows, with a $10 overage for an additional GB of data:
- 75 MB for $10 (Update: per a correction to the original Fierce Wireless report, this plan is solely for non-smartphones, i.e.: 3G-capable feature phones)
- 2 GB for $30
- 5 GB for $50
- 10GB for $80
Depending on the service level, some plans are more expensive than the similar offerings from AT&T, while others are more attractive. A 2 GB data plan from AT&T, likely more than enough data for most casual smartphone owners, is $25 per month, or $5 less than what the same amount of mobile broadband will cost new Verizon customers. But heavy data users will do better with Verizon: It would cost $55 for an AT&T smartphone owner to have 5 GB of available data. And although 10 GB is overkill for all but a small percentage of current smartphone customers, AT&T would charge $105 for such capacity as compared to Verizon’s $80. AT&T wins at the very low end though: Instead of a paltry 75 MB from Verizon for $10 a month, $5 more nets 200 MB from AT&T. (Note: see update above, as the 75 MB plan from Verizon is for feature phones.)
Related to the new smartphone plans are details about Verizon’s LTE and mobile hotspot services. The Droid Life blog reported last week that customers with an LTE-capable device, such as the Samsung Charge or HTC Thunderbolt, will have to start paying for the 4G mobile hotspot feature; a service that has been free up to now. On July 7, in tandem with the new tiered data plans, customers will reportedly pay $20 per month to gain both an additional 2 GB of data and the ability to use the mobile hotspot functionality of the 4G smartphones.
Given the rising appetite for mobile broadband in the face of increased smartphone adoption, Verizon’s move was expected by many and considered inevitable by some. Coverage and network reliability are still key decision points for any mobile broadband service, but now customers on the two largest networks will be factoring in their varying data usage needs, and the monthly costs required to meet those needs. Sprint still offers unlimited data, and while T-Mobile offers “unlimited” plans, the carrier does slow network speeds after a tiered amount of data is reached in a month. With T-Mobile very likely to be consumed by AT&T, that may be a moot point, however.