Verizon Wireless planted a bigger flag in prepaid this week with the announcement of its new "Verizon Unleashed" plans. Though only available in Southern California and most of Florida for the time being, the plans offers unlimited services for $50 per month.
Verizon Unleashed will offer subscribers unlimited calling minutes regardless of time of day, unlimited calls to other Verizon subscribers, unlimited domestic messaging, and unlimited messaging to select carriers in Canada and Mexico. Unlimited mobile Web is a feature as well, though the plan is not available on handsets that have full HTML browsers.
Verizon has long offered prepaid plans, but the $50 price point is significantly less than its current $94.99 plan for unlimited calling and texts. It also puts Big Red in direct competition with long-established prepaid operators like MetroPCS and Cricket Wireless, which offer prepaid plans in the same range.
A comparison between the various options, however, shows that price alone may not be enough for Verizon to steal customers from its rivals. Granted, Verizon offers a nationwide home network, but the smaller carriers can counter with free nationwide roaming.
MetroPCS's cheapest prepaid plan, which is $40 per month, brings unlimited calling, messaging, and Web-browsing for handsets with WAP browsers. The $45 per-month plan adds features like free international text messaging and directory assistance (Verizon charges $1.99 plus airtime for such calls), while the $50 per month plans adds additional MetroPCS services like MetroWeb Navigator (Verizon will charge extra for VZ Navigator), e-mail, and instant messaging.
Cricket's $45 per-month plan also includes unlimited calling and texts plus unlimited 411 directory assistance, navigation services, international texts, and mobile Web for phones with standard mobile browsers. Like Verizon, Cricket also throws in three-way calling, caller ID, call waiting, and call forwarding. For smartphone users the $55 per-month plan offers additional services for BlackBerry and Android devices.
For $50 per month Boost Mobile delivers unlimited calling, messaging, e-mail and instant messaging, 411 directory assistance, push-to-talk service, and Web browsing on a selection of handsets that includes Android models like the Samsung Galaxy Prevail . Yet, Boost charges 10 cents to send international text messages.
If you don't want a monthly fee, you can opt for pay-as-you go pricing. For $1.99 per day you'll get unlimited calling, but text and multimedia messages will be 2 cents each. Alternatively, for 99 cents per day, only calls to other Verizon subscribers will be unlimited. All other calls will be 10 cents per minute and text messages will be 10 cents each.Regardless of what you pay, though, you'll have to choose from just three handsets. The LG Accolade offers decent call quality in a flip phone design, whereas the Pantech Caper and the LG Cosmos have full QWERTY keyboards.