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Verizon dives deep into the budget end of mobile with a new $35 plan

Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) has always stuck to the premium of end of the mobile pricing spectrum, leaving budget prepaid plans to its competitors. But it may be changing its strategy. On Thursday it introduced a $35 prepaid plan, which is by far the cheapest thing it offers under the Verizon logo.

FierceWireless first reported on the new plan, but we confirmed the details with Verizon today. The $35 tier targets text junkies using basic phones, offering unlimited SMS and web surfing but only 500 voice minutes. Four feature phones — the LG Cosmos 2 and Extravert and the Samsung Gusto 2 and Intensity III — are available under the plan, and it’s not transferable to other devices. Extra minutes cost an additional 25 cents.

Verizon basic prepaid plans pricing

Verizon is no stranger to prepaid, but unlike Sprint(s s) and T-Mobile, it hasn’t focused much effort on the segment. At the end of 2012, Verizon had only 5.7 million prepaid subscribers out of 98.2 million retail accounts. In addition, much of Verizon’s recent attention has been directed at the upper tier of the prepaid market — tablets and data modems as well as no-contract smartphones plans.

By delving far below the $50 price tier, Verizon is venturing into the territory of prepaid-only players like Cricket Communications(s leap) and MetroPCS(s PCS), mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) like Tracfone and Sprint’s no-contract arms Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. Prepaid has enjoyed enormous growth over the last several years, so you can see why Verizon is interested, though it’s extremely late to the party.

LG Extravert
LG Extravert

Verizon’s new love of prepaid likely has something to do with its rapidly emptying CDMA network. Since launching LTE two years ago, 50 percent of all of Verizon’s data traffic has migrated to those new 4G systems. Verizon essentially made 3G a fallback network for its next-generation of high-end smartphone users, and to fill the gap left over it’s only offering prepaid services over 2G and 3G phones.

The four feature phones on Verizon’s basic plan are no exception. While you get unlimited data with the plans, you’d have to try very hard to rack up even a modest data usage on these devices. They sport Opera browsers and a few email and social networking apps, but you won’t get access to any advanced applications. What’s more, they only hold CDMA 1X 2G radios, so connection speeds are quite slow.

10 Responses to “Verizon dives deep into the budget end of mobile with a new $35 plan”

  1. nubwaxer

    “The four feature phones on Verizon’s basic plan” cut the mumbo jumbo. are you saying you can’t bring your own smartphone? and what is mobile web? is it data or not data? talk sense.
    i have a feature phone and cannot go online with the wifi built in except for access to gmail and to upload pictures to kodak.
    i can buy a nexus 4 and get t-mobile’s prepaid that gives me 100 minutes with additional at $.10/minute and unlimited data at HSPA+ speeds that rival any LTE service out there.

    • D. Bunker

      I think he was pretty clear…to those who are not challenged in the area of reading comprehension. NO, you cannot bring your own smartphone to the $35 prepaid plan.

  2. Bubba Jones

    I ditch Verizon and their ever increasing fees for Republic Wireless.

    Every time my $19.00 a month unlimited everything smartphone bill comes, I get a giddy happy feeling inside…

    Do I miss Verizon? I do in the same fashion as I miss having a toothache…