Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) quietly launched tiered mobile data plans for smartphone customers as well as a range of options for tablet and mobile hotspot users. The new smartphone plans, which are not permanent (at least not yet), are another indication that wireless carriers are willing to embrace usage-based data plans.
As had been rumored, the nation's largest carrier kept its unlimited data plan for $30. Verizon added a $15 option for 150 MB of data. Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney said the new $15 plan is promotional, but declined to say when it will end. She said the plan will help users transition from feature phones to smartphones.
AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) decided to do away with unlimited data plans for smartphone customers in June, and currently offers two tiers for smartphones: $15 for 200 MB and $25 for 2 GB. T-Mobile USA has been rumored to be planning a $10 offering for 200 MB of data.
In addition to the smartphone plans, Verizon also launched a slew of data plans for tablets, mobile hotspots (like the ZTE-made Fivespot) and netbooks. Customers can get 1 GB of data for $20 per month; 3 GB for $35; 5 GB for $50; and 10 GB for $80. Those plans are permanent. Verizon now offers Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, and also will launch Samsung's Android-powered GalaxyTab tablet Nov. 11.
Verizon executives have long indicated that the carrier will introduce tiered or usage-based pricing in conjunction with its launch of its LTE network, which is expected before year-end.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said last month the carrier's new, lower data pricing has encouraged users to try out AT&T's data services.
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Article updated Oct. 29 to reflect that only the $15 data plan is promotional.