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Verizon: Talk Is Cheap, Data Is Mandatory for Most

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Verizon (s vz) today finally unveiled new pricing plans that reduce the cost of voice while keeping a customer’s overall bill about the same, thanks to making data plans mandatory on many popular phones. The carrier also said it plans to reduce the number of devices it carries to 50 from more than 80 today, and to further reduce that number as time goes on. The goal of these pricing changes is to get more people hooked on data in advance of Verizon rolling out its next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

Beginning Jan. 18, Verizon customers will be able to get an unlimited nationwide voice plan for $69.99. Unlimited voice, texts, pictures and video messages will cost $89.99, and prepaid versions of those plans will cost $5 more a month. When it comes to data, Verizon has divided its handsets into three categories (see slide): smartphones, multimedia phones and feature phones. Smartphones have needed a data plan for a while, and now Verizon is requiring a data plan at $9.99 for 25 MB (40 cents a MB) for its multimedia phones, as we previously reported.

Verizon has simplified its pricing to six single line plans and eight family plans from a total of 40 plans, which should make comparisons among them all a little bit easier. Lowell McAdam, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, said the company will also allow tethering with its smartphones, and would make an announcement related to that capability sometime in the future. He stressed that Verizon’s efforts with pricing were to get more people to use data. Such data use won’t harm the company’s network, he said. It will also bring in more revenue and keep the average revenue per user at the carrier on the rise.

For those seeing a chance for savings, you actually need to call Big Red or go online to change your current plans. And no word at all on what pricing for LTE plans will look like, or what the deal is with Verizon’s CEO’s love of bundled plans while its CTO touts usage-based plans.

Related GigaOM Pro Research:

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13 Responses to “Verizon: Talk Is Cheap, Data Is Mandatory for Most”

  1. Annette

    That’s still expensive considering there’s StraighTalk for $45 unlimited and on Verizon network. I’m not that much of a talker so the unlmited plan would be excessive for me. I’m all for Prepaid – no contract phone and for me I find Net10 to be ideal.

  2. This article fails to note that Verizon claims to customers just finding out about this that the change is due to the fact that these 3G phones require data to be able to use them to the fullest. Since the same phones were available pre-2010 without a mandatory data fee, I’m wondering how it’s ‘required’.

    Unfortunately, it also fails to mention how this will actually affect consumers who don’t want or need data. There’s a lot of us out there…

  3. ” Lowell McAdam, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, said the company will also allow tethering with its smartphones, and would make an announcement related to that capability sometime in the future. “

    Verizon already allows tethering just pay the extra $15-30/mo so what?

  4. Lucas' Fritz

    Originally Verizon stated that the mandatory data plans were to stop excessive overage charges from people overusing the either pay-as-you-go or data cap limited accounts. Now they are offering a data cap account that will cause the same problem?
    Somehow it makes me suspect that these are not decisions based on customer service.

  5. verizon just recently starting selling phones with wifi built in. but now they do not want to let customers buy those phones for voice plan only and than use wifi for internet.

    for many people this would be the perfect option as they want data on there phone but do not need it everyplace over 3G. WiFi would work just fine for them.

    • mongoose

      They may not want you to do this, but it is exactly what I did. I got the KIN OneM on a voice plan only, then called tech support to disable the verizon network so that I can only use the internet when wifi is available. You need to know what to ask, but it is very doable.