Verizon is today announcing a suite of new data plans for smartphones. The new plans increase the data allotment at each tier, but also come with higher price tags. In addition, Verizon is introducing a feature that lets customers carry their unused data to the next month’s billing cycle and a way for customers to choose throttled connection speeds instead of overages when they go over their limits. Both features are similar to those already offered by other carriers.
Verizon notes that the new plans offer at least 30 percent more data than before, but the prices of each tier have gone up between 10 and 17 percent. The cheapest plan now runs $35 per month (up from $30) and offers 2GB of data. The most expensive option provides 24GB of data for $110 per month. Each plan includes unlimited talk and text, but requires an additional $20 per month access fee for each line of service in addition to any device payments. (Tablets and mobile hotspots carry a $10 per month access fee, while connected devices, such as smartwatches, have a $5 per month access fee.)
The new Carryover Data feature lets customers carry their unused data to the next month’s billing cycle. It’s very similar to AT&T’s Rollover Data and expires at the end of the next cycle, unlike T-Mobile’s plan, which lets you rollover data for up to 12 months.
Safety Mode is a first for Verizon and lets customers opt for throttled, or slower, data speeds instead of paying overages when they hit their data limits. Verizon says that the throttled speeds will be limited to 128kbps until the next billing cycle, which is significantly slower than the carrier’s standard LTE service. The catch with this option is that Verizon requires a $5 per month fee to exercise it on its lower tiers, making it not much different than just paying an occasional overage when you exceed your data limit. Overage charges run $15 per GB.
Verizon's largest plans include Safety Mode and North American roaming
Verizon’s two largest plans, XL and XXL, which offer 16GB and 24GB of data, respectively, have the Safety Mode feature available at no extra charge. In a briefing on the new plans, Verizon’s Jeff Cha said that the carrier sees customers on its largest plans exceed their data allotments the most, which is why it included the Safety Mode feature with them and made it an opt-in feature on the lower tiers. The XL and XXL plans also include unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada from the US and talk, text, and data service in Mexico and Canada when traveling outside the US. Those features run $5 per month and $2 per day, respectively, on the lower tier plans.
As part of these new plans, Verizon is also introducing a revised version of its My Verizon mobile app. The new app provides access to data usage, shopping for new devices, Verizon’s support services, and bill viewing and payments.
Verizon’s new plans are available to new and existing customers starting today, though it says that customers on its older plans may remain on them if they choose. While the new options certainly provide more data per dollar than before, it’s hard to not see how this is a price hike on Verizon’s services that will cost customers more per month than previous options. Verizon’s biggest competitor, AT&T, doesn’t have plans that line up exactly with Verizon’s new offerings, making it difficult to directly compare the two. Verizon will argue that its network justifies the cost of its service, and many millions of people are willing to pay for access to Verizon’s network. But it’s safe to say that Verizon remains one of the most expensive carriers in the US, and today’s changes only make it more expensive.