Verizon Wireless revamps calling plans; Goes for customer grab ahead of 4G

Verizon Wireless revamps its wireless plans. The big plan: Grab customers with a better handset lineup and simplified pricing and then keep them as the carrier moves to 4G services.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Verizon Wireless is going on the offensive as it tweaks pricing plans, pares its device portfolio and markets heavily with its "there's a map for that" ad campaign. The grand plan for Verizon Wireless: Grab customers, get them using a lot of data and then upsell them to 4G services as the company upgrades its network.

Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said on a conference call:

[The change] to me is more about the tools we had available to us. Getting Alltel done gives us a lot of scale advantages. We've been looking at this for the last 6 months. The Droid has been a great flagship device for us. The pieces really started to come together. When we see an opportunity to gain share and do it profitably we're going to do it.

To snare more customers, Verizon Wireless is simplifying things. McAdam said the company is streamlining its handset lineup from 80 devices to 50. The general idea is to sell fewer handsets and have a more knowledgeable sales team. McAdam also noted that the Droid is seeing data usage rates comparable to what the iPhone sees. He also argued that Verizon's network is ready for the heavy data usage that new devices such as the Palm Pre Plus will bring.

McAdam made the comments on a conference call with analysts. Verizon Wireless on Friday officially rolled out new wireless service plans that will kick in Jan. 18. "This is about data and upselling customers to LTE," said McAdam.

The more notable changes, tipped off by the Boy Genius Report and a Verizon advisory, include (statement):

  • A $69.99 nationwide unlimited talk plan;
  • An $89.99 nationwide unlimited talk and text plan;
  • Redesigned family plans ranging from $119.99 for talk and $149.99 for unlimited talk and text;
  • Data plans that feature a 25 MB for $9.99 a month package;
  • The $19.99 data package for 3G phones has been cut;
  • 3G data packages for smartphones will stay at $29.99 a month;
  • Broadband access plans for laptops will stay the same.

Update: AT&T quickly matched these plans.

On the prepaid front, Verizon is also unveiling new prepaid plans. In a nutshell, all of the new unlimited plans can go prepaid for an extra $5 a month.

Existing contracts aren't affected, but customers can move to the new plans.

McAdam said Verizon is walking the line between selling a premium service, being competitive in pricing and grabbing market share.

Verizon CFO John Killian added that the carrier's moves "are offensive" and aimed at growing share. Killian said that the changes should drive the top and bottom lines for the company.

Editorial standards