Madness! I went round and round with Verizon's customer support on this a month or so ago. My wife needed a new phone, so we went looking for one she could sync with our online calendar (or even Outlook, which is also synced). First type of phone to come to mind? Smartphones, of course! I argued about the mandatory data plan and was first told that they want their users to "be able to take full advantage of the phone's capabilities." (Discovered later that this argument was bull, since in the fine print, you are not allowed to "take full advantage of the phone's capabilities". You are not allowed to use an app to connect to the internet, such as Pandora, or download large files! If they find out you are doing this, they will cut your access! Read the fine print on the so called 'unlimited' data plan, that is capped at 5 gig!) When I told them that was not what I wanted, all I needed to do was to sync calendar and contacts, they came up with the excuse that "many customers have racked up large bills, and then want to not pay for them." OK, I said, then require either a block of all data, or the data plan. Once this reasonable request was turned down, they finally just gave up and said "well, you cannot activate the newer smartphones without the data plan. Sorry 'bout your luck". I even inquired about buying a phone elsewhere and then activating it. Nope- they won't allow that, either. I finally gave up. I found out that LG's new EnV phones, the touch and the III, have a utility you can download from them (LG), that will allow you to sync with Outlook. Hopefully, more manufactures will follow suite.
If you are in the same boat I am, please contact the customer service dept. of your carrier, and argue with them about it. If enough people do this, maybe they will change their policy. Maybe I will even sprout wings, and fly to the moon! It couldn't hurt, anyway.