Are Verizon's New Plans Really Less Expensive? - InformationWeek

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1/20/2010
11:50 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Are Verizon's New Plans Really Less Expensive?

Late last week, Verizon Wireless introduced new calling plans. At first glance, the plans appear to offer a better value for the dollar, with their unlimited calling allotments. The trouble is, there are other fees being worked into the mix that negate the price drops.

Late last week, Verizon Wireless introduced new calling plans. At first glance, the plans appear to offer a better value for the dollar, with their unlimited calling allotments. The trouble is, there are other fees being worked into the mix that negate the price drops.Several factors need to be considered in looking at the new pricing structure being offered by Verizon Wireless. First, let's talk about the company's early termination fee.

In November 2009, Verizon Wireless doubled its existing $175 ETF to $350 for what it defined as advanced devices. Advanced devices are basically smartphones running Android, BlackBerry OS, webOS or Windows Mobile. The original list of devices requiring the $350 ETF was pretty lengthy. Verizon recently reduced that list by about 10 models, which are now classified as multimedia phones. (Stick with me, this where things start to get interesting.)

Enter Friday's new calling plans. Any individual customer can snag an unlimited talking plan for $70 per month. Add $20 if you want unlimited messaging, too. Family plans start at $120 for two lines, and will cost $150 if you add in unlimited texting.

Think you can get away with $90 (or $150) for unlimited calling and texting? Think again. Verizon is now charging a mandatory $10 per month for 25MB of Web access per month for all its 3G multimedia phones. A huge proportion of Verizon's "regular phones" are 3G multimedia phones. That $90 just jumped to $100 per month. And if users go over the 25MB monthly allotment, they'll have to fork over another $0.20 per megabyte per month. Previously, customers could choose between the a la carte $1.99 per megabyte fee or a $20 monthly fee for a block of data.

Only Verizon's most basic phones escape any sort of mandatory data fee, though they'll still be charged at $1.99 per megabyte if the use any data at all.

Smartphones will still need to add in a $30 unlimited (nee, 5GB) data plan to their devices on top of the $70 and $120 price points. Users of simple feature phones and the 3G multimedia phones can also choose this $30 unlimited option.

The bare minimum voice plan available to Verizon customers is $40 for 450 minutes. That jumps to $60 if you add in texting. If you need something between 450 minutes and unlimited minutes, it'll cost individuals $60 for 950 minutes and $80 if you add in texting. If you're keeping track, that's just $10 less per month than if you go for the unlimited plans.

Yeah, phones are starting to get expensive, especially if you talk and text a lot.

Verizon customers used to have more flexibility in the data and texting plans, with less expensive bundles available.

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