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Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

Unlimited data plans and a handful of new Android smartphones are going to be Verizon Wireless 's key weapons against the arrival of the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone 4 on AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s 3G network this summer. (See Apple Unveils the iPhone 4.)

AT&T will start to cap its 3G mobile data plans this week, concurrent with the launch of the iPhone 4. So, independent telecom analyst Carmi Levy suggests, Verizon can push its unlimited plans to users that don't want to put up with the headaches of tracking data usage every month. (See Capping the Data Gusher.)

"In many respects, Verizon's biggest advantage could be the fact that it doesn't yet offer the iPhone, because it isn't subject to the same crushing bandwidth issues faced by iPhone-toting customers -- and AT&T -- in major US cities," Levy notes. "Without the network-choking equivalent of the Sword of Damocles hanging over its neck, Verizon can afford to hold on to unlimited plans -- and similarly customer-friendly alternatives -- for far longer than AT&T ever could."

Verizon offers an unlimited data plan for smartphones at $29.99. "Savvy marketing that plays into growing consumer and business frustration with capped plans -- and takes a few shots at AT&T in the process -- could be more than enough to swing momentum Verizon's way," Levy suggests.

Continuing to promote better coverage and offerings like family plans can also help Verizon, suggests Gerry Purdy, principal analyst at MobileTrax. Verizon and AT&T engaged for months in a TV and online battle over which company offers better wireless coverage, but AT&T gave up that fight. (See AT&T & Verizon End Map Scrap and Luke Wilson’s War.)

Unleash the Androids
Verizon can also offer new phones to compete with iPhone 4, since the vendors backing Android haven't been sitting still. "How can they make the best go of it?" asks Purdy. "Well, Android."

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) will have two more Android phones -- the Droid2 and the Shadow -- on the network in July. (See Motorola Brings More Droids to VZW .)

High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), meanwhile, is said to be working on an Android phone with a front-facing camera for Verizon. That device, which may turn out to be the infamous Scorpion, is expected on the network by the third quarter.

The iPhone, eventually
Nonetheless, Purdy believes that Verizon will get the iPhone eventually. "Its a frustration for some people internally at Verizon," he says, noting that the terms of the exclusive deal between Apple and AT&T still aren't public knowledge.

But Purdy believes it will eventually be better for Apple, in sales terms, to be available on Verizon's and other carriers' networks as well as AT&T. "Long term, they’re going to have to get on Verizon," he says.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:32:23 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

One might argue that not having data caps could hurt Verizon, since it will presumably lower prices for a lot of AT&T users. But I think you make a good point that most users don't want to have to track their monthly usage, especially just to save $5. I'd rather pay extra to not have to worry about going over.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:32:23 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

Enjoy it while it lasts, seems reasonably certain that Verizon will introduce tiered pricing with LTE, maybe before.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:32:22 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

Commenting on my story:


 


"Except AT&T could hold on to unlimited pricing for new users if they wanted to -- they just don't want to. The goal is to constrict the pipe and raise data revenues to offset future losses in voice and SMS revenues, and holding on to unlimited data simply isn't what investors or executives want."


See: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Will-Verizon-Retain-Unlimited-Data-To-Fight-Off-iPhone-4-108869 

miar70 12/5/2012 | 4:32:20 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

It will be interesting to see if Vz sees migration from AT&T. Worst case scenario is those extremely heavy users who could not afford to pay the overage charges on AT&T move to Vz. This will crank up the pressure on the Vz network and relieve AT&Ts network. If that happens, let's see how long Vz hang on to their uncapped plans...


As you point out I believe it is inevitable when LTE is introduce that some form of usage cap is introduced. As for worrying about keeping track, this should be easily handled for the user by the provider with easy to use mobile portal showing your monthly usage or even a simple SMS based notification system. These are relatively easy to implement.


So who will be the first to offer rollover GBs ?? :)

fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 4:32:18 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android If they are smart about it, they'll not position it as "caps", but have usage tiers akin to their voice tiers, priced low enough so that the user won't feel at risk.

ATT's two plans are inflexible.
joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:32:17 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

Clearwire appears to be doing a form of very limited speed capping. At least in Baltimore, they're offering a $40 on the go plan with a 6Mbit/s cap and then the more expensive plans don't limit max download speed.


http://www.clear.com/shop/services/compareplans?compare=294&mobile=1


 


The $50 online rebate on a $40 service is interesting too.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:32:17 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

Sprint is also getting more serious about laptop data caps. The company has a 300MB limit when laptop users are roaming. They're talking about sending out a text message when users get close to that limit.


http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Sprint-To-More-Tightly-Restrict-Roaming-Laptop-Data-Users-108886

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 4:32:16 PM
re: Verizon's Advantages: Unlimited Data & Android

VZW has a 5GB cap on their data plans and have for a number of years.  They just call it unlimited as you can go anywhere and use any IP service on the Internet.  Unlimited is not the absence of a cap though.  If you go above 5GB a few too many times, they will say goodbye to you.


 


I doubt you will see the heavy data users move to VZW; they would only last a few months.  That leaves T-Mobile and Sprint.   If enough people start to use excessive amounts, you can expect a cap or a severe throttle to be put in place.


 


Oh, even the broadband connect cards from VZW had a 5GB limit.

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