Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) joined T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) today with the launch of Edge, a handset upgrade program that lets customers upgrade to a new device every six months if 50 percent of the retail cost of the phone has been paid. The Edge program will kick off Aug. 25.
Verizon's Edge lets a customer select a device and sign up for a month-to-month service plan. The price of the phone is divided over 24 months and the subscriber pays the first month when he or she purchases the phone. If after six months 50 percent of the retail price of the phone is paid, the customer can upgrade to a new device. The only caveat is that customers must be on a Share Everything data plan.
During Verizon's earnings call today, Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said that customers are asking for options to finance their devices and upgrade their devices. Edge comes on the heels of T-Mobile's "Jump" upgrade program, which debuted last week, and AT&T's "Next" program, which the company announced earlier this week. Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) also unveiled new device financing options yesterday.
T-Mobile's handset upgrade program, called Jump, also lets customers upgrade to a new phone every six months if customers finance the device through the T-Mobile EIP (equipment installment plan) and pay $10 per month per phone. The $10 fee lets customers upgrade their phone twice every year after the initial six month enrollment period has expired. T-Mobile says the $10 fee not only pays for enrollment in the Jump program but also is an insurance plan that will protect the customer if their device malfunctions, is damaged or is lost.
Meanwhile, AT&T's handset upgrade program lets customers upgrade their smartphones and tablets every 12 months if they agree to add a monthly installment payment to their bill. Customers buy a smartphone or tablet with no down payment and agree to pay monthly installments for the device over the course of 20 months. However, after 12 payments, if the device is in good working order, customers can trade it in and upgrade to a brand new device with no down payment, or can keep using their device and have no more payments after 20 months.
Leap's financing options, which Cricket calls its Phone Payment Plan, will be available starting July 21 in Cricket-owned stores and select dealer locations, and will be made available online later this year. Leap said the new plans will, for example, let customers buy Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4 for as low as $25 down and $25 per month in monthly payments.
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