Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) plans to take its "Verizon Unleashed" offering nationwide Sept. 12, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked to remain anonymous. Verizon first launched its Unleashed service in April in Southern California and parts of Florida. The service provides prepaid unlimited wireless calling, texting and data for $50 per month.
Click here for complete details of Verizon Unleashed.
A Verizon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on rumors.
Verizon hinted last month that it was considering taking the offer nationwide. Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said at the time that Verizon might expand Unleashed to additional markets, but did not provide details. "The crown jewel for us is the postpaid base," he said. "We have to make sure what we do doesn't cannibalize the postpaid base."
Verizon's Unleashed service represents a counter to the prepaid unlimited offerings from the likes of Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, as well as prepaid carriers like MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) and Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP). Boost Mobile kicked off the unlimited $50 prepaid game in 2009. Currently, 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, according to industry sources as well as reporting from investment banking firm Deutsche Bank, Verizon Unleashed currently isn't making much of an impact in the two markets where it is available. Based on store checks, the firm wrote recently that "the product is having minimal impact on sales of competing prepaid brands [and] Unleashed is not cannibalizing postpaid sales at Verizon Wireless. In fact, we estimate that each participating VZW store is selling an average of only 2 Unleashed lines per day with demand primarily coming from a few customer niches that are willing to pay a premium for heavy voice and text messaging (but no Internet) on the Verizon Wireless network."
Verizon Unleashed 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.
Verizon 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 last year tested a $50 prepaid monthly unlimited plan across the Southeast. The tests covered 11 states.
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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