Verizon’s prepaid plan costs $30 per month for an “unlimited” data package with its “3G Smartphones”. In addition, a 25 MB/month plan is available for “3G Multimedia phones” for $10 per month. That service is mostly for checking email and messaging.
These plans are on top of the carrier’s regular prepaid packages that include both daily and monthly rates. Unlike traditional prepaid voice plans, in which a consumer buys a certain number of minutes and buys more when those are used up, Verizon’s prepaid data plans – and others – are purchased a month at a time, with or without a cap.
The main advantage of Verizon’s prepaid plan is that it allows you to stop without paying huge penalties.
Phones qualifying for the new prepaid plans include all of Verizon’s Android smartphones, the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, and the recent crop of BlackBerrys.
Verizon will start selling the Android-based Samsung Fascinate, this week. It’s similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone that’s already launched on every other major carrier, including T-Mobile’s Vibrant and AT&T’s Captivate, but takes away the internal 16GB flash memory and replaces it with only 2GB.
Other 3G phones eligible for the multimedia plan include LG’s enV Touch, enV3, Chocolate Touch and VX8360; Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s Alias 2 and Renown; Nokia Corp.’s Twist; and Casio Corp.’s Exilim.
Current prepaid customers are limited to a trio of lower-end devices, including Samsung’s Intensity and Smooth, and LG’s Accolade. These devices are considered “Feature Phones” by the carrier because they lack 3G access.
Prepaid wireless plans are handy for customers who don’t want to be tied down to a long-term contract – but they’ll pay more for their phone and for service.
Verizon Wireless said the prepaid data packages would be available in its retail locations beginning today and via its website on Sept. 28. Verizon Wireless updated its prepaid packages earlier this year, pricing its no-contract offerings at a $5 premium over its contract plans.
Other prepaid wireless data plans include:
- Clearwire’s Rover Puck ($149) lets 8 users share the WiFi connection. Rover prepaid plans cost $5/day, $20/week, or $50/month for unlimited 4G internet usage. It features Wi-Fi b/g/n and can simultaneously run 2 SSIDs—but it does not offer 3G connectivity. Other Clear Spots don’t offer the pre-paid plan.
- Virgin Mobile USA has announced an all-you-can-eat 3G data plan for $40 per month. Virgin Mobile says the plan will replace existing $20, $40 and $60 monthly offerings. It works with their MiFi 2200 mobile WiFi hotspot and a USB dongle.
- Cricket Communications recently launched its first Android-based smartphone, the Sanyo Zio by Kyocera. Cricket is launching an all-inclusive $55 Android service plan to accompany the device. It offers unlimited talk, text, picture mail, web browsing, email, international text and more. Cricket says it’s nearly half the price of Smartphone service plans at other major carriers.The Zio is available online and at Cricket-branded stores and dealers nationwide for $249.99 without a contract.
- TracFone Wireless led the U.S. market in prepaid service with 14.4 million prepaid customers. TracFone offers mainly prepaid voice. Boost Mobile (with the addition of Virgin Mobile) had 10.6 million subs, T-Mobile USA prepaid service had 7 million, MetroPCS had 6.6 million, and Leap Wireless had 4.9 million.
- The nation’s largest wireless carriers, Verizon’s Prepaid Plans and AT&T’s Prepaid Plans, have been moving away from the prepaid model in recent months, even though they each had about 5.4 million prepaid customers at the end of 2009
Sprint offers four brands of prepaid service, none of which features the Sprint name.
- Virgin Mobile USA: Their all-you-can-eat 3G data plan costs $40 per month. BlackBerry data service can be added to any of Beyond Talk’s plans for an additional $10 per month.
- Boost Mobile: Boost’s popular $50 monthly unlimited plan will get more all-inclusive with unlimited 411 calls, email, and instant messaging.
- Assurance Wireless: Targeting the lowest-end of subscribers, Assurance was launched late last year as a free wireless service for eligible low-income households. The plans include a free cellphone and 200 minutes of airtime for local and long-distance calling every month. The service is currently available in five states, but Sprint plans to expand it to around 25 before the end of the year, pending approval in each.
- Commoncentsmobile, a new pay-by-the minute brand: Sprint’s final customer segment comes in the form of a new pay-by-the-minute brand aimed at those consumers who spend less than $30 per month. Sprint says that around 63 percent of the no-contract market is already choosing to pay by the minute or the day.
Sprint’s Simply Everything is a $99 postpaid plan with unlimited web browsing, voice and mobile tv.
There were 285 million wireless subscribers in the U.S. at the end of 2009 with 20% now using prepaid phone services (pdf), up from 18 percent at the end of 2008.
Related Dailywireless articles include; PrePaided Mobile: Best Buy?, AT&T Data Caps Extend to Femtocells, AT&T’s New Data Plans, T-Mobile: Now HSPA+ Coverage for 75M, Clear: No Limits, and Phoney Spectrum Scarcity.