Verizon launches $80 prepaid plan with 1 GB of data

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) confirmed it will launch a new prepaid smartphone plan with unlimited voice, texting and 1 GB of data for $80 per month. Verizon had indicated such a plan was coming earlier in April.

Currently, the only phone that Verizon is pairing with the new $80 plan is the Samsung Illusion, a phone that operates on Verizon's EV-DO data network. The Android 2.3 device will cost $170 and sports a 1 GHz processor, 3.5-inch curved glass display and 2 GB of internal storage. Verizon said the prepaid Samsung Illusion, which now retails for free with a two-year contract, will also be available in the coming weeks at Best Buy, Target, RadioShack and Walmart.

Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney declined to comment on future phones Verizon might pair with the $80 prepaid smartphone plan.

The new Verizon plan is far cheaper than what Verizon currently offers for its prepaid 3G smartphone plans. Verizon charges $95 per month for unlimited voice and texting on its prepaid smartphone plans, and that does not include the cost of a data plan.

Verizon's decision to offer a new prepaid unlimited plan specifically for smartphone users is part of a growing trend among Tier 1 operators. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) last year launched the LG Thrive, an Android-powered smartphone, under the company's GoPhone prepaid brand for $149.99. Earlier this week AT&T also introduced new prepaid data options, including 1 GB for $25; 200 MB for $15 and 50 MB for $5. AT&T's new prepaid data packages are available on its $50 Unlimited Talk & Text nationwide smartphone GoPhone plan and its $25 Unlimited Text with 250 minutes GoPhone plan.

In addition to the prepaid smartphone plan, Verizon announced new prepaid LTE plans for its Novatel Wireless-made Jetpack 4510L hotspot. Customers can use the device to share an LTE signal with up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices simultaneously. Verizon will charge $15 for 250 MB of data weekly, $60 for 3 GB of data monthly and $90 for 10 GB of data monthly.

For more:
- see this release
- see this PC Magazine article
- see this The Verge article

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Correction, May 1, 2011: This article originally incorrectly stated the price of the Samsung Illusion with a two-year contract from Verizon. It is sold online for free with a two-year contract.