Over the last six months Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T and their prepaid brands and MVNOs have been busy cutting prices and adding data to plans in a frantic competition for new customers. Verizon has been mostly content to sit on the sidelines. Big Red did double the data included with its AllSet smartphone plan from 500 MB to 1 GB last month. But that's still less data for more money than everyone else.
It looks like Verizon is about to make a move, although it's one that's hard to get excited about. Phandroid,com is reporting, based on what look like leaked employee training slides, that on March 1, 2015, Verizon will launch a new $60 per month smartphone plan with 2.5 GB of data. Everything else about the $60 plan is the same as the current $45 1 GB plan (which is being kept); unlimited voice minutes, unlimited SMS including to Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico, unlimited picture and video messaging and mobile hotspot.
So what's wrong with getting an extra 1.5 GB for $15/month more? Nothing really, except that Verizon lets you purchase 3 GB of add-on data for the $45 plan for $20. Not only is that less per GB ($6.67 vs $10) but the add on data is good for 90 days instead of 30. So the add on is not only cheaper per GB but you get more time to use it up. Plus, you only need to buy the add-on when you need it instead of paying extra every month.
The only advantage of the $60 plan is that it's "set it and forget it", once you sign up you get 2.5 GB every month with no further action on your part. To buy the add-on you actually have to go your Verizon MyPrepaid online dashboard when your data is running low and click a button. With the $60 plan you are paying more strictly for a little bit of convenience.
So how does Verizon's $60 2.5 GB plan compare with the prepaid competition? Not very well. For $60 you can get 4 GB on AT&T GoPhone, or completelyunlimited, unthrottled data on T-Mobile's MetroPCS. Sprint's Boost Mobile doesn't have a $60 plan but offers 10 GB of high speed data for $55.
While it's true that Verizon offers coverage in a lot more places than T-Mobile or Sprint, AT&T's coverage footprint is about the same size as Verizon's. So unless you are one of the few people for whom Verizon is only the one of the four national operators that works everywhere you use your phone there's little reason to choose Verizon's pricy plans.
If your are still using a basic non smartphone on Verizon Prepaid, there's a bit of good news. Verizon is increasing the voice minutes included with its $35/month basic non-smartphone prepaid plan from 500 to unlimited. The plan also includes unlimited messaging, including SMS to Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico and 500 MB. The now redundant $45 unlimited talk and messaging, 500 MB plan is being retired. I don't know it $45 plan users will automatically be switched to the cheaper but identical $35 plan or if they will have to call Verizon to switch.
Related: Prepaid Operator Profile: Verizon