Verizon goes flat-rate

Counting airtime minutes may soon be a thing of the past. In a potentially game-changing move, Verizon Wireless today announced a series of new nationwide unlimited anytime minute plans that give customers unlimited airtime minutes for a flat fee. The basic plan starts at $99.99 per month. A plan with unlimited messaging and airtime costs $119 per month. And unlimited airtime, unlimited messaging plus V CAST, VZ Navigator and mobile email costs $139.99 per month. Unlimited Family Share plans are also available starting at $199.98 for two lines.

The move by Verizon seems to imply that the operator realizes that voice traffic is quickly becoming a commodity and offering unlimited calling isn't going to be a big impact to the bottom line as long as the minimum price is $100 per month. Although Leap Wireless and MetroPCS also offer unlimited flat-rate packages ranging in price from $30 per month to $50 per month and up, these plans don't include unlimited roaming and these operators don't have the same nationwide coverage that a Tier 1 operator like Verizon Wireless has.

However, Verizon isn't offering unlimited access on the data side. Its new BroadbandAccess Plans, which are available starting March 2, are limiting customers to either 50 Mb for $39.99 per month or 5 GB of data for $59.99 per month. "They are concerned that when people start to use the EV-DO connection for unlimited data plans they have the potential of really putting a strain on the network," says John Byrne, analyst with Technology Business Research. "Quality of service is an issue." 

For additional details: 
- See this Verizon Wireless press release
- See this story from TheStreet.com
- See this chart of their new plans

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