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Verizon, AT&T introduce new prepaid plans ahead of iPhone refresh

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Even as rumors continue to swirl that Apple is preparing a cheaper, prepaid version of the iPhone, Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday announced new prepaid plans, just weeks ahead of Apple's expected 2011 iPhone introductions.

Verizon unlimited

Verizon will begin offering on Thursday a $50 a month pre-paid plan for select phones, providing unlimited talk, text and data, according to the Wall Street Journal. Big-box retailers Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target will partner up to sell the plan.

"This is a very competitive market, and we want to make sure we have a price portfolio to fit a greater number of customers," said Brenda Raney, a Verizon spokeswoman. "In these times, there are some people who would prefer living on a prepaid plan."

Verizon reported 4.4 million prepaid subscribers for the quarter ending in June, showing a 3.4% decline compared to the year ago period. On the other hand, postpaid subscribers amounted to 85.4 million, a 4.6% year to year increase.

The carriers main rivals in the prepaid business are Sprint, via Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively.

MetroPCS has similar unlimited prepaid plans available for as low as $40 per month, and Sprints Boost customers who pay on time can lower their bills to as little as $35 per month.

Verizon, however, will not lower unlimited plan prices below $50 as to prevent cannibalization of its postpaid subscribers, said James Ratcliffe, a Barclays Capital analyst.

Verizons initial unlimited prepaid lineup will include four handsets from LG, Samsung and Pantech for new customers, though some older prepaid phones can be used for the plan.

Meanwhile, unlimited postpaid plans have become scarce as carriers have struggled to keep up with heavy data usage by customers. Earlier this year Verizon announced the termination of unlimited data plans for postpaid consumers purchasing smartphones, including the iPhone. AT&T has also capped new iPhone and iPad data plans at 2GB per month.

But, Sprint is still offering unlimited data plans with its smartphones, with a recent report suggesting that the nations third largest carrier won't discontinue such plans in the event it launches the iPhone later this year, as has been rumored.

GoPhone

AT&T will begin offering a new GoPhone plan on Sept. 18, along with the option of an international long distance package for prepaid customers. The national plan will cost $25 monthly and include 240 nationwide voice minutes and unlimited, nationwide messaging, while the international feature will cost prepaid customers $10 and include 250 minutes to over 50 countries for 30 days.

The carrier also announced that prepaid customers can now roam in Canada for $.39 per voice minute, $.25 per message sent and $.20 per message received.

The iPhone 5 is expected to be launched in early to mid-October, with a growing number of reports suggesting that Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon in offering at least one iPhone model to American consumers. On Tuesday, however, a new rumor surfaced indicating that the mobile operator may only launch the iPhone 4 this October, as Sprint sales associates were reportedly being briefed only on the launch of the existing handset.

It has been widely suggested that Apple will launch two distinct iPhone models this year, an entry-level, dubbed the iPhone 4S, and a high-end iPhone 5. The former has been rumored to be a cheaper iPhone 4, one that could potentially be sold by carriers with prepaid contracts instead of regular two-year agreements.

Commenting on the prepaid market and the possibility of a cheaper iPhone option, Tim Cook explained in February that Apple doesnt want its products to be just for the rich, adding that the company is not ceding any market and is planning clever things to compete in the prepaid handset market.
post #2 of 44
I honestly don't think we are ready for prepaid phones here in the usa. Consumers are too used to the subsidized pricing from 2 year contracts and expect phones to cost $200 or less. Everyone I have talked to about the actual prices of the iPhone that people pay in the UK and other countries where pre-paid is more prominent call paying $600 for a cell phone ridiculous.

However, I have no problem with them bringing back the unlimited data plans, and lowering prices across the board to be more "competitive". (if they ever do that)
post #3 of 44
What does this have to do with the iPhone?! You still can't get prepaid data plan with AT&T (maybe Verizon?) for the iPhone even with unlocked ones.
post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bieb View Post


I honestly don't think we are ready for prepaid phones here in the usa. Consumers are too used to the subsidized pricing from 2 year contracts and expect phones to cost $200 or less. Everyone I have talked to about the actual prices of the iPhone that people pay in the UK and other countries where pre-paid is more prominent call paying $600 for a cell phone ridiculous.

However, I have no problem with them bringing back the unlimited data plans, and lowering prices across the board to be more "competitive". (if they ever do that)

I'm ready for a voice plan lower than $40 a month.

I rarely talk on the phone anymore... but I pay more for voice than either texting or data.
post #5 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post

I'm ready for a voice plan lower than $40 a month.

I rarely talk on the phone anymore... but I pay more for voice than either texting or data.

Agreed. I love the iPhone, but the amount they charge per month for this (and most smartphones) is making it not really worth it anymore.. People don't talk on the phone as much anymore.. Texts are incredibly cheap on ATT's end.. Wifi hotspots are more common.. I don't use much 3G data.. It's crazy how much people have to pay to keep up with technology. I want a smartphone for what it can do as a pocket computer, not necessarily as a super high end phone service. After this contract, I may just go with a dumbphone and iPod Touch. It's annoying, first world problems.. But, it really feels like the cell companies are just screwing everyone because smartphones are popular. No way my voice and data plans should be this high.
post #6 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by september11th View Post

I don't use much 3G data ... No way my voice and data plans should be this high.

All the US carriers continue to stick with unlimited plans, which seem quite unfair to those of us who don't use much voice and/or data.

The plan I have in China is US$7 a month for 150 MB of data and 50 minutes of voice. This is all I need. Why am I paying AT&T close to $70? That GoPhone plan looks promising but there's no mention of data.

My next iPhone will be purchased unlocked and I don't want to pay a monthly rate that includes a subsidy I haven't utilized. I think we should pay for what we use. Let those who use gigabytes of data every month pay for it.

Unlimited plans really just cause us low usage customers to subsidize the heavy users.
post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by TokyoJimu View Post

All the US carriers continue to stick with unlimited plans, which seem quite unfair to those of us who don't use much voice and/or data.

The plan I have in China is US$7 a month for 150 MB of data and 50 minutes of voice. This is all I need. Why am I paying AT&T close to $70? That GoPhone plan looks promising but there's no mention of data.

My next iPhone will be purchased unlocked and I don't want to pay a monthly rate that includes a subsidy I haven't utilized. I think we should pay for what we use. Let those who use gigabytes of data every month pay for it.

Unlimited plans really just cause us low usage customers to subsidize the heavy users.

No one is offering unlimited plans anymore.

AT&T offer 200MB for $15/month and the minimum voice plan required for the iPhone is $40 for 450 min. This is a total of $55.00. Why are you paying $70?!
post #8 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bieb View Post

I honestly don't think we are ready for prepaid phones here in the usa. Consumers are too used to the subsidized pricing from 2 year contracts and expect phones to cost $200 or less. Everyone I have talked to about the actual prices of the iPhone that people pay in the UK and other countries where pre-paid is more prominent call paying $600 for a cell phone ridiculous.

However, I have no problem with them bringing back the unlimited data plans, and lowering prices across the board to be more "competitive". (if they ever do that)

Well even on a 2 year contract your paying over $500 for a phone, just over a 2 year time period as part of your contract.

I brought my iPhone from Apple fully unlocked when the iPhone 4 came out, I can switch to nearly any network in the world just by popping a sim card in, and I can cancel my contract (which is about 50% cheaper then the 24 month alternative)

Prepaid where you then buy a 30 day unlimited addon is hardly new, Three UK have been doing it for a long while, and it has turned out successful for them.
post #9 of 44
"This is a very competitive market, and we want to make sure we have a price portfolio to fit a greater number of customers," said Brenda Raney, a Verizon spokeswoman. "In these times, there are some people who would prefer living on a prepaid plan."

Translation: No one has any money, and we need a cheap plan. Plus, people are on to our pricing nonsense.
post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bieb View Post

I honestly don't think we are ready for prepaid phones here in the usa.

Then how do you explain this?

"... Virgin Mobile and Boost, and MetroPCS. The former reported 13.8 million prepaid customers in June, with the latter amassing 9.1 million prepaid subscribers, a 23% and 19% increase for the period, respectively."

ISTM that the prepaid market is growing rapidly.
post #11 of 44
I use an iPad (a better web machine anyhow) and only pay for the months I want cellular access - usually when I'm away from home on long vacations.

I use a TracFone (really dumb phone) for cheap voice calls.

I could buy a new iPad every year with the money I save over a smartphone plan (android or iPhone).
post #12 of 44
When you compare the various 'unlimited' plans, pay attention to the taxes applied. I noticed that Simple Mobile was touting that their headline prices include all taxes. So the $50/mo plan likely is comparable to $42-$45 prices without tax included.
post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by skavanag@yahoo.com View Post

I use an iPad (a better web machine anyhow) and only pay for the months I want cellular access - usually when I'm away from home on long vacations.

I use a TracFone (really dumb phone) for cheap voice calls.

I could buy a new iPad every year with the money I save over a smartphone plan (android or iPhone).

Or use AT&T deaf plan that have unlimited data (texts, etc) with no voice while you use dumb phone Deaf plan is $40 a month, I think. I think it's a win-win situation.
post #14 of 44
I feel sorry for you guys in the States. Here in Britain I have a 1 month rolling contract which gives me 100 minutes, 3000 texts, 1GB of data and allows me to tether my iPad for £10 ($16).

That's what I call competative!
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

What does this have to do with the iPhone?! You still can't get prepaid data plan with AT&T (maybe Verizon?) for the iPhone even with unlocked ones.

Not officially, but I have have used a locked iPhone 3GS on my GoPhone plan from day one. I set it up with a non-iPhone smart phone and then switched out the SIM card. Works perfectly and have never had a problem.
post #16 of 44
That is why I think Sprint coming onboard with the iPhone will shake up things
They will continue pushing the other guys lower
post #17 of 44
You could always activate a go phone sim and place in an iPhone. Cheap calling and texting plan for walking around, full iPhone capabilities when you have wifi. If you are around wifi a good part of the day, that's a way around the high iPhone data plans. Several bids on YouTube show you how to do it.
post #18 of 44
I would take any iPhone option on prepaid. I've been on Virgin Mobile for $27 a month, and can't imagine ever going back to a contract.
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by lamewing View Post

Not officially, but I have have used a locked iPhone 3GS on my GoPhone plan from day one. I set it up with a non-iPhone smart phone and then switched out the SIM card. Works perfectly and have never had a problem.

Does not work anymore. It used to work before the iPhone 4. But it seems with iPhone 4 they can tell and they will block the data. i have a friend who went to AT&T store with his unlocked iPhone 4. They even game him a micro-SIM cards. Bought the data plan and it did not work. They told him the GoPhone data plan will not work on the iPhone 4 and he need to use post-paid account. He got his money back from AT&T and switched to T-Mobile.
post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_t View Post

You could always activate a go phone sim and place in an iPhone. Cheap calling and texting plan for walking around, full iPhone capabilities when you have wifi. If you are around wifi a good part of the day, that's a way around the high iPhone data plans. Several bids on YouTube show you how to do it.

I'm planning on going this route with the next-generation iPhone. Even if I add a data package, I think I'd average about $18 per month in AT&T GoPhone charges.
post #21 of 44
Not sure why the AT&T GoPhone plan is of relevance here. It applies to voice and texting, but not data.
Unless there will be an option to have a non-data iPhone, which could actually be attractive. If my daughter's phone cost me $25/mo for 240 minutes and texting (I won't enable texting now on principal) with wifi only, that would be a perfect plan. I'd almost consider it myself. (Alas my wife wouldn't... she loves her 3G data.)
post #22 of 44
SO, does this mean we can finally take say an iPhone 3GS and use it prepaid like a GoPhone on AT&T WITHOUT having to first unlock?!
post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by supremedesigner View Post

Or use AT&T deaf plan that have unlimited data (texts, etc) with no voice while you use dumb phone Deaf plan is $40 a month, I think. I think it's a win-win situation.

But is that available for the iPhone?
post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

I'm planning on going this route with the next-generation iPhone. Even if I add a data package, I think I'd average about $18 per month in AT&T GoPhone charges.

Be careful... you could end up stuck with a brick.
AT&T knows what phone you're using and, as noted in other posts, can and does simply block services at any point.
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

SO, does this mean we can finally take say an iPhone 3GS and use it prepaid like a GoPhone on AT&T WITHOUT having to first unlock?!

If AT&T (or ANYONE) lets you start using an iPhone without a data plan as of October, I'll eat blue M&Ms (I'm as deathly allergic to the coloring in them as some people are to peanuts).

It's just not happening.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

SO, does this mean we can finally take say an iPhone 3GS and use it prepaid like a GoPhone on AT&T WITHOUT having to first unlock?!

You already can, with a couple of things to keep in mind:
1) None of the prepaid data plans are guaranteed to work. So for data, you should expect it to be limited to WiFi only.
2) AT&T will only initially activate the GoPhone plan in conjunction with an approved GoPhone device. So you need a cheap GoPhone to use for initial activation, and then switch the SIM over to the iPhone later.
3) Advanced features like visual voicemail won't be available.

This announcement does not change the status quo in any way - they have not announced any new GoPhone plans that are targeted specifically at the iPhone.
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

You already can, with a couple of things to keep in mind:
1) None of the prepaid data plans are guaranteed to work. So for data, you should expect it to be limited to WiFi only.
2) AT&T will only initially activate the GoPhone plan in conjunction with an approved GoPhone device. So you need a cheap GoPhone to use for initial activation, and then switch the SIM over to the iPhone later.
3) Advanced features like visual voicemail won't be available.

4) AT&T will eventually add a data plan whenever they want or just outright cancel your service. There's nothing you can do about this.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #28 of 44
I have doubts that Verizon's unlimited pre-paid plan would apply to smartphones because it would be a far better deal than their normal plans. I suspect it may only apply to "feature phones" which can use data but only in a limited fashion. If unlimited talk, text, and data were available to data-hogging smartphones there would be no reason for anyone to be on their regular, more expensive smartphone plans.

Right now the pre-paid plan options Verizon lists on their web site are actually worse than their normal plans. $45/month for 450 minutes vs $40/month on their regular plan. Only the $20/month unlimited texting vs $5/$10/$20 options on the regular plans.
post #29 of 44
The use of "pre-paid" and "post-paid" to describe these plans confuses me...

Once upon a time pre-paid meant you bought X minutes and they were good until you used them (or they might expire after 6/12 months). Pre-paid now seems to just mean non-2-year contract... I suppose your pre-paying for a month of unlimited service, is that it?

Regardless the US market pricing is crap... AT&T is the worst now with thier only SMS plan being unlimited for $20/m and lowest minute package being 450. I want to pay for what I actually use... 200 minutes,20 messages and 1GB of data per month.

Looking forward to getting away from AT&T any way I can and still keep an iPhone and international roaming (GSM). In fact what I'd love more than anythin is for Tim Cook to get up on stage and say "people love th iPhone, but a lot of our customers hate AT&T so were releasing the iPhone to all US carriers including t-mobile and sprint". I hate AT&T to the point and I'm actually considering switching to an android phone just to get away.
post #30 of 44
There is ZERO reason an iPhone needs a data plan -- ZERO. You can use it as a phone JUST FINE, and use WiFi as necessary!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

If AT&T (or ANYONE) lets you start using an iPhone without a data plan as of October, I'll eat blue M&Ms (I'm as deathly allergic to the coloring in them as some people are to peanuts).

It's just not happening.
post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

There is ZERO reason an iPhone needs a data plan -- ZERO. You can use it as a phone JUST FINE, and use WiFi as necessary!

Yeah, I know. You're preaching to the choir, my friend.

Tell that to the telecoms, however, and they'll laugh you out of their store. A second model of data-free iPhone won't ever happen.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #32 of 44
Thanks.

Any idea why the prepaid data plans don't work, of if anyone has found a workaround? I assume unlocking and JB is the workaround?

I would *HARDLY* call visual voicemail "advanced, ITSPs like BroadVoice have had this for YEARS, where voicemails are emailed to you. In fact, shouldn't voicemails just be in your Inbox?!


Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

You already can, with a couple of things to keep in mind:
1) None of the prepaid data plans are guaranteed to work. So for data, you should expect it to be limited to WiFi only.
2) AT&T will only initially activate the GoPhone plan in conjunction with an approved GoPhone device. So you need a cheap GoPhone to use for initial activation, and then switch the SIM over to the iPhone later.
3) Advanced features like visual voicemail won't be available.

This announcement does not change the status quo in any way - they have not announced any new GoPhone plans that are targeted specifically at the iPhone.
post #33 of 44
But WHY?! If I have a 3GS that has had its two year contract complete and I pass it down to family or a friend after I upgrade to an iPhone 5, then they should be able to add service to it in GoPhone fashion, without restriction! The person receiving it does NOT want to pay for data separately, and is more than fine with just using WiFI for data!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

4) AT&T will eventually add a data plan whenever they want or just outright cancel your service. There's nothing you can do about this.
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

There is ZERO reason an iPhone needs a data plan -- ZERO. You can use it as a phone JUST FINE, and use WiFi as necessary!

Translation: I never use turn-by-turn navigation, so I don't realize how handy it is for other people.
post #35 of 44
There are NAV apps that do not require a data connection -- check it out...


Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

Translation: I never use turn-by-turn navigation, so I don't realize how handy it is for other people.
post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

But WHY?! If I have a 3GS that has had its two year contract complete and I pass it down to family or a friend after I upgrade to an iPhone 5, then they should be able to add service to it in GoPhone fashion, without restriction! The person receiving it does NOT want to pay for data separately, and is more than fine with just using WiFI for data!

Oh, well. There's nothing we can do about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

Translation: I never use turn-by-turn navigation, so I don't realize how handy it is for other people.

Translation: I'm so short-sighted, I can't even tell that he's obviously not calling for the permanent removal of all data plans from the iPhone and making it impossible for anyone to have one if they want them.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post

I'm ready for a voice plan lower than $40 a month.

I rarely talk on the phone anymore... but I pay more for voice than either texting or data.

Ok I have to say I don't understand what's going on with our country and the cell companies, I've been living in the Philippines for the last few years now...yes I paid around $650 or so for my iPhone 4 it's unlocked can be used wherever here you can buy prepaid sims anywhere here, corner store, vendor...at the telecom or mall anywhere...they only cost a couple of bucks not like when I come home and stop by a Tmobile for a $50 sim "probably more now" but I like them for this because they just sell you the sim and you can use the phone...Here you can use data on the prepaid sim call text "damn you even get free text when you load the card" 85 free for 500 $12 peso card which will last a while you can cut the data off and use wi- fi most of the time but if you need it just switch it on and it's there...it's simple and the U.S. Needs to get with the program you pay for what you use plain and simple....I don't pay for people who call me, only for out going calls ....and this is for text as well only for sending text" why should I have to pay for someone sending me a messg.? Or for someone calling me? Rediculous .....I love our country but I would much rather have the same type of plans and prepaid that they have here.....there really needs to be a change..."reading all of the comments have gotten me a little upset" :/
post #38 of 44
Hi guys,
In April I bought locked iPhone 4 from Best Buy and I asked them to buy prepaid sim card with data plan,and of course they told me that prepaid plans are not working with iPhone.
Then I was checking on internet and found this site www.unlockit.co.nz. Just open Safari on your Iphone type this address and install certificate for your carrier and that's it. Later I bought prepaid sim card and didn't told guy that I'm going to use it in Iphone, sim was activated with some LG phone I put in my iphone, data plan of 500mb is 25$ and is working perfectly. I don't care about voice plan because I'm from Serbia and using Skype to call my family.
Regards
post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdyB View Post

I feel sorry for you guys in the States. Here in Britain I have a 1 month rolling contract which gives me 100 minutes, 3000 texts, 1GB of data and allows me to tether my iPad for £10 ($16).

Wow! $16?! Yet another reason why I'd like to move across the pond.
Just curious, what does a plan with more minutes cost?
post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

AT&T offer 200MB for $15/month and the minimum voice plan required for the iPhone is $40 for 450 min. This is a total of $55.00. Why are you paying $70?!

Because 200MB is not enough for me in the U.S. A 500MB plan would be perfect. So I pay $40 for voice + $25 for data + taxes/fees/etc. and that comes to $70.

My favorite plan is the one I use when I'm in Malaysia. It's a flat US$0.02 per megabyte.
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