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Exclusive: Verizon To Revamp Wireless Pricing Jan. 18
$19.99 75MB plan replaced by $29.99 unlimited plan...
by Karl Bode 11:17AM Wednesday Jan 13 2010
If you recall, Verizon Wireless recently imposed a slew of new pricing for lighter users, none of it offering a particularly compelling value for consumers. Users who planned to buy a not-quite-smartphone from Verizon currently can pay prices not quite in sync with both value or reality: either $9.99 for 25MB (at 50 cents each additional MB) or $19.99 for 75MB (30 cents each additional MB). Documents obtained by Broadband Reports from a Verizon Wireless employee indicate that another round of changes is on tap for January 18.

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Most importantly, the document indicates that Verizon is replacing the $19.99 for 75MB plan for a plan that costs $29.99 for unlimited access, plus mobile e-mail service. If truly unlimited (and the document makes no reference to hidden caps), then that's a slight improvement for big red. Meanwhile, the $9.99 plan will remain with a 25 MB usage cap, but the per megabyte charge will be reduced to twenty cents per megabyte.

Another important item to notes is that as they did with smartphones, Verizon is going to start requiring some kind of data plan for all phones. Phones are now divided into three classes by Verizon: "simple feature," "3G Multimedia," and "3G smartphone." "Even some basic phones such as the LG VX8360 will require data plans starting the 18th," says our tipster. Some examples of 3G Multimedia phones: LG Chocolate Touch, LG enV3, LG enV Touch, LG VX8360, Motorola Entice, Motorola Rival, Samsung Rogue, Samsung Alias2 and Nokia Twist.

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Note that depending on what classification of phone you have, you'll be restricted as to what kind of data plan you can use. Simple feature phone users are the only ones who can choose to pay by the byte (and here we thought Verizon really wanted people to only pay for what they use). Meanwhile, smartphone users can't use either the new $29.99 or $9.99 packages -- and must use Verizon's more expensive smartphone plans.

One thing to remember as the "metered billing" debate continues in 2010: while carriers like talk a lot about how they prefer a pure usage-based model for fairness, that in reality would result in the majority of their customers, who use very little bandwidth, paying very little money to Verizon. In reality, plans are designed to always nudge heavy and light bandwidth users toward higher bills.

For example, if you buy a LG enV Touch, you can either pay $9.99, quickly burn through the ridiculously low 25 MB cap and pay the still overpriced 20 cent per overage fee. Or you can pay $30 a month. Again, that choice is designed to look like freedom of choice, but it's not actually "paying for what you use." Most customers are going to fall somewhere above the 100 MB range, and all of them are going to be pushed toward over-paying for connectivity. In explaining the $30 the document tells employees to "think of how dissatisfied they would be if they received their bill with excessive Pay As You Go charges!" Indeed.

Of course the pricing is about making money, but it's also about control. As more devices come with integrated Wi-Fi and Verizon loses their VCAST walled garden -- they want to recoup the possible losses seen to Verizon content and services. These new pricing models and associated restrictions are Verizon's way of ensuring that you use their voice and SMS services -- and not say services where they won't get paid, such as VoIP and IM clients over Wi-Fi.

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