Verizon is divvying out new perks to its customers, but you'll need to pay up to take advantage of them.
The nation's largest wireless carrier on Wednesday unveiled a new set of pricier plans with extra data, as CNET reported Monday. The prices will go up by as much as $10 a month.
The low-end "S" plan will rise by $5 to $35 a month, but will include 2 gigabytes of data, twice as much as before. The "M" plan will increase by $5 to $50 a month, while its data will rise from 3GB to 4GB. The "L" plan will tick up by $10 to $70 a month, while data increases from 6GB to 8GB. The "XL" plan will go up by $10 to $90 a month, but you'll get 16GB, up from 12GB before. Lastly, the "XXL" plan will cost $10 more at $110 a month, but you will get 24GB instead of 18GB. They are available starting Thursday.
In addition, the plans will give customers access to new features such as a rollover data program called "Carryover Data." They will also be able to turn on "Safety Mode," which throttles down the connection speed of an account when it has reached its limit, avoiding the overage fee. There's also "Data Boost," which allows customers to buy an additional gigabyte of data for $15 once they've hit their limit. Lastly, certain customers will be able use their phones in Canada and Mexico without roaming charges.
Call it the Un-Carrier effect: Many of the features mimic perks rolled out by rival T-Mobile, as well as by AT&T and Sprint, over the past few years. Today's move is a reflection of the heightened competition, which has yielded better deals and more perks for customers as the carriers vie for your business.
Verizon considers it new plans attractive because they string together a lot of perks into one package.
"Combo-ing the features make for a better experience than our competitors," said Rob Miller, vice president of consumer pricing at Verizon. "These plans will deliver on what a majority of our customers need."
The new rates come on top of separate device access fees of $20 a month for each phone associated with the account.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere, however, mocked the move.
"I love the price hikes, @verizon! It's like you're trying to get everyone to switch to @TMobile!! #keepitup,", he tweeted. In a follow-up tweet, he compared the model of creating pain points and charging fees to remove them something akin to "The Sopranos."
Existing Verizon customers won't be forced into these new plans and can keep their current rates if they wish, Miller said.
Miller said the price increase was needed because the inclusion of new features, such as Safety Mode, costs Verizon money.
"It more than justifies the price change," he said.
He added that he wasn't concerned about criticism from rivals like Legere. "We're not going to play their game," he said.
Sprint sent out a tersely worded press release noting that it still offers a better deal.
Breaking down the features
Here is what the plans include:
- Carryover Data (AT&T owns the rights to the term "Rollover Data.") will be available to anyone who signs up for the new plan. Like AT&T's model, you'll be able to take your current unused data and move it forward to the next month. The data, however, doesn't carry over beyond that next month, and you eat into your regular allocation of data first.
- Safety Mode will slow your connection down to 128 kilobits per second -- equivalent to a dial-up modem -- for the remainder of your billing period. It will be available for free to customers on the XL or XXL data plans, but you'll have to actively turn on the feature through the revamped My Verizon app. Customers on lower-end plans can pay $5 to take advantage of the feature, which eliminates overage fees. Miller said customers on lower end plans typically don't go over their limit, and that folks on the more expensive plans tend to get hit with overage fees more often.
- Data Boost is available for anyone in Safety Mode. You can purchase an additional gigabyte of data, which can be rolled over to the next month.
- International roaming to Mexico and Canada will be free for customers on the XL plan or larger. It gets you unlimited talk and text from the US to Mexico and Canada, as well as unlimited talk, text and your allotment of data while in those countries. Customers on smaller plans can pay $5 to access this feature.
- The new My Verizon app will allow you to make changes to your plan, turn on or off Safety Mode and access information and usage on your account. You'll also be able to access on-demand support and shop for devices through the app.
Updated at 11:36 a.m. PT and 2:13 p.m. PT: To include a response from T-Mobile's CEO and Sprint.