Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) launched a major new service dubbed "Verizon Unleashed," which offers prepaid unlimited wireless calling, texting and data for $50 per month. The service is a direct attack on the unlimited offerings of Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Boost Mobile brand, as well as regional carriers like MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) and Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and MVNOs like TracFone. However, it is currently only available in Southern California and parts of Florida.
Click here for complete details of Verizon Unleashed.
Verizon Unleashed offers unlimited talking, texting and mobile Web access for $50 per month. The service is available on three feature phones: The clamshell-style LG Accolade for $39.99, the bar-style LG Cosmos (with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard) for $99, and the Qwerty Pantech Caper for $79.99.
The carrier also offers Unleashed per-day and per-minute pricing: Customers can pay $1.99 per day for unlimited talking to any number, with texts at 2 cents each and daily mobile Web browsing at 99 cents per day; or customers can pay 99 cents per day for unlimited calling to Verizon customers, with calling to other numbers costing 10 cents per minute, texts costing 10 cents per message and mobile Web browsing costing 99 cents per day.
Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Raney said the service is currently only available in the "Verizon Wireless defined regions of Florida (east of Panama City) and in Southern California." She declined to provide details, including whether Verizon would expand the offering. Further, Verizon appears to be leveraging Best Buy as a retailer for the service; Verizon Unleashed devices have been spotted at a number of Best Buy locations in Southern California, according to a number of reports.
"This new plan appears to be targeted most closely to similar plans from the likes of Boost and Virgin Mobile," wrote Weston Henderek of research firm Current Analysis in response to questions from FierceWireless. Henderek said Verizon Unleashed appears to be an attempt to counter Leap and MetroPCS: He said Leap's Cricket offering is popular in Southern California and MetroPCS has found success in Florida.
"The plan appears to fit well with going after the Boosts and Virgin Mobiles of the world without compromising Verizon Wireless postpaid subscribers, since it appears that there are only three devices to choose from and those devices appear to be all feature phones," Henderek wrote. "In addition, the plan does not offer data roaming and comes with a Catch 22 where customers must maintain a balance of at least the total of their monthly bill or calls will cost 25 cents per minute and data 99 cents per day."
Verizon last year tested a $50 prepaid monthly unlimited plan across the Southeast. The tests covered 11 states.
Verizon's entry into the prepaid, unlimited space likely will ratchet up the pressure on unlimited prepaid companies including Sprint Nextel's Boost Mobile brand, which kicked off the unlimited $50 prepaid game in 2009. Meantime, MetroPCS offers unlimited talking, texting and data for $40 per month, Leap prices it at $45 per month and MVNO TracFone also offers unlimited service for $45 per month.
Interestingly, Boost, MetroPCS and others have recently added Android-powered smartphones into the mix as a way to separate themselves from the competition.
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Article updated April 27 with details from Verizon.