Verizon drops some devices from $350 ETF list

Verizon Wireless confirmed it reduced the number of devices that are subject to an early termination fee (ETF) of $350--the ones in its "Advanced Devices" category. The revised list now includes only smartphones and netbooks; multimedia phones, simple feature phones and data cards are subject to the existing, lower $175 ETF.

Verizon spokesman Tom Pica confirmed to FierceWireless the change, and said eight devices had been dropped from the $350 ETF list: five LG devices, the Motorola Krave and the Samsung Rogue. The operator now classifies these devices as "3G Multimedia" phones. The move coincides with the introduction of Verizon's new pricing plans, which in part require owners of such devices to purchase a minimum $9.99 per month data plan that provides 25 MB of data and access to mobile email, games and the Internet.

The operator introduced the higher ETF in November. In response to a query from the FCC about the Advanced Devices ETF, Verizon said the difference between the amount it pays handset OEMs for devices and the subsidized price of the device is more than twice as large for Advanced Devices as it is for basic devices. Additionally, Verizon said it incurs additional costs to sign up customers, such as advertising costs, commissions for sales personnel and store costs.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month that Verizon's response "raised more questions than it answered." He did not specify what--if any--next steps the commission would take on the topic; however, he did say there is "real confusion" among consumers about wireless carriers' ETFs.

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