Verizon iPhone customers will enjoy the same unlimited data plan Verizon offers all of its smartphone customers, for now. Image: CC Andy on Flickr/Flickr

Verizon announced an unlimited data plan for the iPhone Tuesday. The Verizon iPhone unlimited data plan is designed to take iPhone customers away from AT&T, which offers a tiered data plan. Verizon isn’t saying when the unlimited data plan for iPhone will end, but most industry analysts expect it will.

Verizon iPhone data plan a challenge to AT&T

The Verizon iPhone unlimited data plan is a bold display of confidence in the quality of its network over AT&T. Starting Feb. 10, Verizon becomes the second carrier in the U.S. to offer Apple’s iPhone. Verizon will offer its iPhone customers the same $30 a month unlimited data plan that Verizon customers using other smartphones enjoy. Data-gobbling iPhone users have put a strain on AT&T’s wireless network. Only about 2.5 million AT&T iPhone customers are expected to switch to Verizon next month because of AT&T’s push to renew contracts at a discount that includes high termination costs in the fine print.

iPhone users will pay less with Verizon

As long as the Verizon’s unlimited data plan is in place, Verizon iPhone users are likely to pay less than they would with AT&T. Even though AT&T slashed its cheapest monthly iPhone voice and data plan to $54.99, data usage over the two-gigabyte limit costs $10 per gigabyte. Verizon’s basic voice and unlimited data plan for iPhone costs $69.99 per month. AT&T iPhone customers who exceed two gigabytes of data in a month will be charged at least $64.99. Exceeding two gigabytes of data in a month is easy to do with an iPhone. For example, watching between six and 12 hours (depending on the bit rate) of streaming video on an iPhone uses two gigabytes of data.

Carriers scramble to keep up with smartphones

Wireless carriers are facing challenges in building and maintaining their networks to accommodate smartphone users, who use up to 10 times more data than feature-phone users. Verizon has made changes to make way for the iPhone that include discontinuing its “new every two” phone upgrade for customers who re-enlist and its $15-a-month option for 150 megabytes of data. Sprint may be showing the market what to expect in the future from Verizon iPhone data plans. Instead of offering a tiered data plan like AT&T’s, Sprint is simply raising the price of its unlimited data plan to $80 a month starting in February.

Sources

CNNMoney.com: http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/25/technology/verizon_iphone_plan/?npt=NP1

PC World: http://www.pcworld.com/article/217667/verizon_iphone_to_get_unlimited_data_plan_for_brief_time.html

PC Magazine: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2375911,00.asp?kc=PCRSS03069TX1K0001121

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