Verizon boosts data allotments in prepaid plans

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) launched new prepaid pricing that significantly increases the amount of data its prepaid smartphone customers can consume per month with their plans, as competition in the prepaid market, especially among Tier 1 players, continues to heat up.

In a blog post, Verizon said current prepaid customers will now receive unlimited voice, unlimited texting and 2 GB of data for $60 a month, up from a data allotment of 500 MB per month. For $70 a month, prepaid customers will receive unlimited voice, unlimited texting and 4 GB of data, up from 2 GB previously. The nation's top carrier said the increased data allowance is available to current customers now will be available to new customers June 6.

The changes were announced after AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) last week launched a new prepaid brand, Aio Wireless. The Aio plans are initially launching in select stores in Houston, Orlando and Tampa, Fla., with additional stores in these three markets opening in the coming weeks. The company plans to expand to additional markets across the U.S. later this year but did not indicate which markets or when it would do so. The $40 Aio basic plan is for feature phones only and includes unlimited voice, texting and 250 MB of data before throttling; the $55 Aio Smart plan is available for smartphones and includes unlimited voice and texting and up to 2 GB of data before throttling; and $70 Aio Pro adds all of that plus up to 7 GB of data before throttling.

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) took aim at its larger competitors last month with the introduction of its no-contract "Simple Choice" plans, which start at $50 per month for unlimited voice, texting and 500 MB of high-speed data, $60 for unlimited voice, texting and up to 2.5 GB of high-speed data before throttling, and $70 per month for unlimited voice, texting and data (unless customers pay for the cost of their phones outright upfront or bring their own phone, they also pay monthly payments for devices under T-Mobile's plans).

Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Boost Mobile, Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and others also offer unlimited voice, texting and a bucket of data for $50 or less per month. In January MetroPCS, now a part of T-Mobile, simplified its plans and began offering unlimited voice, texting and LTE data for $60 per month.

All of the focus on prepaid smartphone plans is not unwarranted. Nearly one-third of U.S smartphone sales in the first quarter were on prepaid carriers, the highest on record, according to a report from the NPD Group. According to NPD, prepaid smartphone unit sales doubled year-over-year in the first quarter, representing 32 percent of total smartphone sales, which is an 11 point increase year-over-year and a 10 point increase from the record-high share of 22 percent reached in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For more:
- see this Verizon page

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