Verizon Wireless is doubling down on its LTE network data rates under a limited-time offer currently available to the wireless carrier's 4G smartphone users. "For example, a customer purchasing [what used to be] the 2 GB-for-$30 plan will receive 4 GB for the same $30," a Verizon spokesperson said.
The same applies to other data tiers, so, for example, the $50 plan delivers 10 GB instead of 5 GB, and the $80 plan doubles to 20 GB from 10 GB. For an additional $20 per month, 4G LTE smartphone users can add a 2 GB mobile hot spot. Prices do not include taxes and surcharges.
"All new customers who purchase a 4G smartphone are eligible for the double data plans," Verizon said. "Existing customers who have upgraded their service or purchased a 4G smartphone within the last 14 days also will be eligible."
The wireless carrier is attempting to address one of the downsides to 4G LTE: the substantially higher speeds of the new network enable users to exceed their monthly data caps much faster than was previously the case on 3G. "We're pushing hard on 4G because customers want it -- more speed, new services," Verizon said in a recent tweet.
Once a Verizon subscriber has chosen one of the new double data plans, they will be able to keep it as long as they continue to use a 4G LTE smartphone on the wireless carrier's network. "The limited-time promotion applies to how long we will sell the plan, not how long customers get to use the plans," Verizon said.
The rollout of the new data plans was specifically timed to coincide with the availability of Motorola's flashy new Droid Razr ($300), which has a clear runway ahead thanks to Apple's decision to delay the launch of a 4G LTE compatible iPhone. However, new customers also have plenty of other 4G LTE models to choose from, including Samsung's Droid Charge ($200) and Stratosphere ($150), the Motorola's Droid Bionic ($250), HTC Thunderbolt ($150), LG Revolution ($200) and Pantech Breakout ($100).
Verizon's limited time offer is expected to run through the end of this year's holiday shopping season. Keep in mind, however, that the new double data plans only apply to Verizon subscribers using one of the carrier's 4G LTE smartphones.
The pricing of Verizon's data plans for laptop users equipped with 4G LTE USB dongles or mobile hotspot devices remains the same as before. "We always encourage customers to review their data use and check our online data calculator so they purchase the data plan that best fits their needs," Verizon said.
Responding To Customer Feedback
By enticing its 4G LTE subscribers with new double data deals, Verizon can minimize the impact of Sprint's decision to extend its unlimited data plans to include 4G LTE beginning mid-2012. Still, the bigger reason behind the change may be customer feedback, noted Lisa Pierce, the managing vice president of unified communications and networking services at Gartner.
"I don't see it as a response to Sprint's 4G announcement as much I see it as a response to customer backlash on 3G and 4G caps," Pierce said in an e-mail Tuesday. "In that way it is a response to Sprint's continued unlimited data plan for smartphones."
Pierce expects that any comparable move that AT&T may eventually make would be in response to its own negative customer feedback -- not simply a competitive response. "But notice, apart from making Wi-Fi more available, that no major U.S. provider is yet dealing with caps on other types of devices," Pierce said.
For instance, USBs and tablets consume much more data than phones usually do. "Although there aren't, for instance, LTE-capable iPads yet --- goodness help us when there are," Pierce added.