- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Verizon Wireless today plans to introduce a new tier of unlimited calling plans starting at $99.99 a month per line, becoming the first national carrier to offer flat-rate pricing.

“People are using their wireless phones more and more as their primary device for voice communication, so this recognizes that, plus the fact that people don’t like to count minutes. And with this plan, you don’t have to,” Verizon spokesman John Johnson said.

The company, the nation’s second-largest carrier, will continue to offer its existing voice plans for individuals and families. Those plans range between 450 and 6,000 in allocated monthly minutes.

Under the new, flat-rate pricing scheme, a basic individual plan costs $99.99 a month for unlimited calls to anyone in the U.S., including land lines. An unlimited basic family plan costs $199.98 for two lines and $99.99 per additional line. The prices cover voice calls; unlimited text messaging costs extra.

Mr. Johnson acknowledged that the new offering doesn’t make sense for everyone. Right now, an individual monthly plan costing $99.99 includes a basic package of 2,000 minutes. At the family level, $199.99 buys 4,000 minutes a month shared between two lines, with additional lines costing $9.99 a month. Overcharges for additional minutes range between 20 cents and 45 cents a minute.

Those plans are similar to competitors Sprint Nextel Corp. and AT&T; Inc., which both have $99.99 individual calling plans with 2,000 minutes a month. As for family plans, Sprint Nextel offers two lines with 2,100 minutes for $109.99, while AT&T; charges $199.99 for two lines and 4,000 minutes. Both charge $9.99 per additional line.

“Many users pay more than $99 a month and this should be attractive to that group of customers,” said Jeff Kagan, an independent telecommunications analyst in Atlanta. “If a customer is not paying that much, it’s not going to be.”

Mr. Kagan said about 10 percent to 15 percent of the country’s 255 million wireless customers use their phones heavily enough for Verizon’s flat-rate plan to make sense. But he said he doesn’t expect the new plan to create much additional traffic.

“It’s not going to be creating more minutes, it’s going to be charging differently for the minutes being used,” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be a network impact at all.”

Verizon also today announced two new mobile broadband plans. Starting March 2, the company will offer 50 megabytes a month for $39.99 and 5 gigabytes for $59.99. Right now, the company has one data plan priced at $59.99.

With about 66 million customers in a competitive wireless market, Verizon trails AT&T;’s 70 million users but is well ahead of No. 3 carrier Sprint Nextel’s 54 million.

Mr. Johnson said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if another carrier introduces a flat-rate plan, but said Verizon is in the best position to do so because its network can handle the traffic. The company has invested $44 billion in its network since 2000, he said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide