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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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RE: i still don't understand
By darckhart on 7/6/2011 2:31:16 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder at what point the marketing took away your ability to see through the smoke. overselling service to generate enough revenue to back build a network and then imposing limits when they can't quite meet demand. i'm glad you enjoy paying $80/10gb and overage fees of +$2/gb. or maybe you just decide not to use that LTE phone to its fullest (despite paying the premium to have it) to stay under your cap. I would say brain dead consumer school has worked very well on you.


RE: i still don't understand
By Solandri on 7/6/2011 5:02:37 AM , Rating: 4
That too is your choice. If you think Verizon's prices are too expensive, switch to a cheaper carrier like Sprint. If enough people did that, Verizon wouldn't be able to charge prices as high as it does. As long as people grumble and complain, but at the end of the month they pay Verizon, nothing will change. Your role in the market is to make choices which save you money, not to sit in your couch and complain on web forums about why you should be able to save money without doing anything.

The overages I agree are ridiculous. The carriers should be required to automatically bump you up one plan tier for just that month if you happen to go over. Not charge you something ridiculous like $0.002 per kb ($2097 per GB). That ranks right up there with usury and inkjet printer ink prices on the immorality scale.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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