Verizon to launch Unleashed $50 unlimited prepaid plan nationwide Thursday

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) confirmed it will launch its $50 prepaid unlimited "Unleashed" plan nationwide Thursday.

Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told Dow Jones Newswires that the plan will include unlimited voice, texting and Web usage for $50 per month, and will be available at Verizon stores and through Best Buy, Target and Walmart stores. "This is a very competitive market, and we want to make sure we have a price portfolio to fit a greater number of customers," Verizon's Raney said. "In these times, there are some people who would prefer living on a prepaid plan."

The carrier hinted last month that it was considering taking the offer nationwide. Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said at the time that Verizon might expand Unleashed to additional markets, but did not provide details. "The crown jewel for us is the postpaid base," he said. "We have to make sure what we do doesn't cannibalize the postpaid base." Indeed, prepaid customers made up only around 5 percent of Verizon's retail customer base as of the end of the second quarter.

Verizon's offering will put into direct competition with Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) Boost Mobile brand, which has a similar $50 unlimited plan, as well as offerings from MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) and Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP). Currently, MetroPCS offers unlimited talking, texting and data for $40 per month, Leap prices it at $45 per month and MVNO TracFone--which uses Verizon's network for its Straight Talk service--also offers unlimited service for $45 per month.

Sprint scored a prepaid unlimited coup last week when it confirmed that Android smartphones on TracFone's flat-rate Straight Talk service will use its network. 

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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