Verizon Wireless is taking a tentative step towards competing with Sprint’s “Everything Data” mobile service plans: for $69.99 per month, Verizon Wireless is offering customers a service plan that includes unlimited data, unlimited text messaging, 450 voice minutes, and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling. However, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and elsewhere, there’s a catch: Verizon Wireless currently isn’t offering the plan to anyone under the sun. For the time being, Verizon Wireless is selectively inviting existing customers to switch to the plan via targeted marketing messages.
According to screenshots of the offers available at Boy Genius Report and elsewhere, Verizon Wireless is also offering a family version of the plan for $139 a month with 1,400 voice minutes.
The limited offer follows on the heels of Verizon Wireless launching tiered data plans, enabling customers to pay $14.99 a month if they can stay within a 150 MB/month mobile data budget. Verizon’s tiered data offerings are just the latest instance of mobile operators clamping down on mobile data’s heavist users: AT&T was the first to introduce tiered pricing, and even T-Mobile (which has been positioning itself as the alternative for data-hungry mobile users) has admitting to capping users of its unlimited plans who exceed 5 GB of transfer per month.
The pricing strategies strongly reflect different types of mobile users: for folks who check email, keep up with their social networks, and send or receive a few photos a month, something like a 150 MB data cap is perfectly workable. However, folks relying on streaming audio and video can eat through 150 MB in short order. Through tiered pricing plans and other strategies, mobile operators have been trying to manage strain on their networks from mobile users—and improve reliability across the board—by clamping down on the heaviest data users even as they work to expand capacity.