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Verizon drops the metered data plan hammer next week. Existing customers will be spared for at least one upgrade cycle, but new customers will bear the full brunt of the nation's most expensive data plan.  (Source: Flickr)

LTE tethering is no longer free for anyone. For new subscribers it's not unlimited, either.  (Source: Tested)
Big Red kills free LTE tethering, charges new customers lots of money for their data

Verizon Wireless (VZ) has been cagey with regard to details of what its new metered smart phone data plan would entail.  Now customers may find out why.

New smart phone subscribers will no longer have the option to get unlimited data, starting July 7.  In its place they will have an array of plans that while gentle on overages and flexible, are generally expensive for base use.

The cheapest plan will be $30 USD/month for 2 GB -- $5 USD/month more than AT&T Inc.'s (T) price on an identical data allowance.  Verizon does not offer a 200 MB plan like AT&T ($15 USD/month).  Instead, it offers two pricier, higher cap plans -- $50 USD/month for 5 GB or $80 USD/month for 10 GB.  Overages at least, are relatively reasonable compared to past rates on Verizon's metered air cards, dropping in at $10 USD per extra GB.

The good news for existing customers is that they will be able to keep their unlimited data plans for at least one more upgrade cycle.

Verizon also revealed details on its plan to crack down on LTE hotspot usage.  Here existing customers aren't entirely spared -- for them the previously free unlimited data service will now cost $30 USD/month.  New customers have it even worse, though -- they won't have an unlimited option.  They will only get a $20 USD/month 2 GB option.

The pricing was revealed by Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney in an interview with FierceWireless.

The new data costs will take effect July 7.  During the interview Verizon also revealed that shared data plans ("family plans") will indeed be incoming -- similar to T-Mobile and AT&T's.  Verizon has not yet put a timetable on the deployment of those plans.

The details revealed indicate that Verizon -- currently the largest network in the U.S. in terms of mobile subscribers -- will also be the most expensive network in terms of data plans.

Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA is currently the cheapest of the metered plans, offering rates of $15 USD/month for 200 MB, $20 USD/month for 2 GB, $30 USD/month for 5 GB, or $60 USD/month for 10 GB.  T-Mobile followed AT&T's lead and killed unlimited data plans in May.

Currently the only carrier with no official plans to switch to metered connections is Sprint Nextel Corp. (S).  CEO Dan Hesse argues that customers value the simplicity and value of its unlimited plans.  However, he warns that Sprint may someday consider metered plans if the market demands it.

Sprint has also suggested that if the pending AT&T/T-Mobile merger gets approved, that it may be pushed out of business.  If Sprint indeed folded or was acquired by another carrier (such as Verizon), the U.S. would be left with only two mega-carriers -- AT&T and Verizon.  Those carriers, notably, also have the highest planned data costs for new subscribers.


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Meanwhile in Finland...
By chromatix on 7/6/2011 12:44:05 AM , Rating: 2
I've just subscribed to a local "mobile broadband" package. For €14 a month, I get 50GB of "priority" data and a free USB modem (locally called a "mokkula") to receive it.

For an extra €5 a month, I get a premium modem supporting higher speeds (via dual-band HSPA+) and an external antenna. I've measured sustained 1.8MB/s downloads on that already, which is faster than my landline.

The best thing is what happens when that 50GB a month runs out. No overage charges, no cutoff, just deprioritisation - so it'll get slower at busy times. No big deal at all.

There's also an unlimited package, with a base price of €20 a month. That's priority data all the time, no cap. With the better modem, €25 a month total, or $36.15 in green money. I'd say that's good value.

So it makes me a very sad panda to see the results of what American corporations and politicians seem to believe is "free competition".




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