Verizon Targets Mid-Range Users With New Data Plans

verizonwirelessstoreVerizon Wireless is once again overhauling its mobile data plans. And if you’re planning to purchase a new mid-range feature phone from the nation’s largest carrier, it’s going to cost you.

The Boy Genius Report has turned up an internal slide deck outlining new data plans that will launch next week and include the creation of a new device class of “Enhanced Multimedia Phones.” It appears the carrier will scrap its $15-a-month, unlimited-data Vcast Vpak for feature phones (current subscribers will be grandfathered), replacing it with a $10-a-month plan that will provide unlimited videos but require an additional $10 or $20 package for additional mobile web services. (Customers who forgo the data package can pay $1.99 per MB.)

Meanwhile, customers who pick up an “Enhanced Multimedia Phone” — any new handset that features an HTML browser, 3G and a QWERTY keypad — will be required to purchase a data plan of $10 for 25MB or $20 for 75MB.The Samsung Rogue will be the first handset to fall under the new category.

The move underscores what appears to be an increasing trend among U.S. carriers: As mid-range handsets are being squeezed from both ends of the spectrum, mid-range users are feeling the pinch. While Verizon continues to offer a $60, 5 GB data plan, customers who shy away from that monthly commitment are being faced with onerous monthly charges and brutal overage charges.

And don’t expect the trend to ease up any time soon — at least not until we begin to see the rollout of 4G networks. Verizon saw its mobile data revenue rise 41 percent from 2007 to 2008, and its mobile data revenue in the second quarter of 2009 skyrocketed more than 50 percent over the year-ago period. Despite the sluggish economy, there seems to be little pushback from consumers when it comes to paying for wireless data services. Except for those — like Stacey — who see the value in the new prepaid mobile data plans.

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