In the battle for iPhone customers, AT&T may score one on Verizon this week. AT&T is offering something of greater value to iPhone customers while Verizon is stripping away what was once promoted as a major competitive benefit.
AT&T announced plans to offer a better deal on mobile insurance, which offers next day replacement of lost, stolen or damaged and out of warranty malfunctioning devices. The new AT&T plan will cost $4.99 a month with a $50 or a $125 deductable. That compares to the current Asurion program at $11.99 a month with deductibles running as high as $199.
By way of comparison, Verizon's iPhone insurance program through Asurion is $6.99 a month. Apple also sells its own insurance. Dubbed the AppleCare Protection Plan, Apple peddles the service, which extends the standard Apple iPhone warranty for up to two years, for a flat $69 fee. The Apple plan, however, doesn't offer coverage as broad as the wireless carriers.
"Insurance plans are a good profit margin. If you are buying a cell phone, particularly an iPhone that has a lot of glass in it, and insurance plan isn't a bad idea," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. "The old AT&T price is a bit high. Now it's come down in price, and it more than competitive with what Verizon is offering."
Metered Data Plans Compared
Meanwhile, Verizon is putting the kibosh on its unlimited smartphone data plans, including the iPhone, on July 7. The unlimited plans were offered as Verizon rolled out its iPhone 4 in a move to get customers to win customers from AT&T.
Now, Verizon users will have to choose one of four new data plans, starting at $10 and costing as much as $80. The $10 plan offers 75MG of data a month -- but it's available just for feature phones, not more advanced smartphones.
Users can also opt for 2GB for $30, 5GB for $50 or 10GB for $80. If users go over their plan, they are charged $10 per every 10GB of extra use. Verizon also plans to start charging $30 for unlimited LTE mobile hot spot usage.
Here's how that stacks up against AT&T: A $15-a-month entry plan or a $25-a-month plan that offers 10 times more data. The $25-a-month DataPro plan offers two gigabytes of data. That's $10 less than what Verizon is charging, and enough to send and receive 10,000 e-mails (or 1,500 e-mails with attachments), plus view 4,000 web pages, plus post 500 photos to social-media sites, plus watch 200 minutes of streaming video.
Unlimited Plans Ending?
Existing AT&T customers can stick with the plan they have until their contract expires, or they can migrate to a new plan without adding time to their contract. AT&T is also is offering unlimited access to more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots in the U.S. at no additional charge. Customers can also use unlimited Wi-Fi anywhere else it's available, such as in the home or the workplace. The new plan also offers a tethering option for $20 a month.
"We are seeing more and more carriers either moving to data caps or slow downs as opposed to additional charges," Gartenberg said. "As more consumers use the network, carriers want make sure mainstream consumers have enough bandwidth so they aren't complaining or going over but also make sure that the tiny minority that's going to disproportionately use the resources are paying for that privilege. It's less likely going forward that carriers are going to offer unlimited plans."
Your Average Joe:
Posted: 2011-07-06 @ 5:13pm PT
You say AT&T has a better offer and now a competitive advantage because of this Verizon change...because AT&T is cheaper. That makes no sense.
Just becasue AT&T is slightly cheaper does not make them a better deal. You get what you pay for --- have we forgotten all the clogged and overburnded network problems AT&T has had? All their dropped call issues? The John Stewart bit on his iPhone on the AT&T network that is still so popular on YouTube?
My bet is that Verizon continues to have a better and more reliable network, making their slightly higher price well worth it.
After all, your phone is only as good as the network its on.