Last week Verizon made several changes to their 3G / EVDO “Mobile BroadBand” data plans, including increasing the limit of their $39.99/month plan, lowering the overage charges across the board, and lowering the most expensive tethering fee (data feature) for cell phones.
Verizon’s press release announcing these changes was vague on some topics and left many people with more questions than answers… this article should help to clear up some of the confusion.
THE CHANGES: What they are, who they effect, and how to take advantage of them!
The $39.99/mo Mobile BroadBand Plan: In addition to the more popular $59.99/mo plan with 5GB/mo allowance, Verizon offers a $39.99/month plan that allowed a (much) lower data allowance. Before 05/17/09, the $39.99/mo plan gave users just 50MB of usage which could very easily be used in a matter of days if not hours – but Verizon has now increased that limit to 250MB with overage charges of 10 cents per megabyte used thereafter. Verizon is automatically upgrading all of their existing $39.99/month subscribers to this new plan with the higher limit and lower overages.
While the increased limit will make the $39.99/month option more appealing, remember that 250MB is still not a ton of data and most RVers will burn through more than that each month. The $59.99/month plan offers twenty times the 250MB limit for just $20 more per month. For more information on how much bandwidth is consumed by common activities like email, web browsing, downloading songs in iTunes, and more, as well as what you can do with 5GB, read this article: What Does 5GB Get Me?
Overage charges: With the exception of users who signed up for their Verizon Mobile BroadBand service before the 5GB allowance policy went into effect (last March, 2008), Verizon charges overage fees once you exceed a monthly data allowance (5GB for the $59.99/month and tethering plans and 250MB for the $39.99/month plan). Verizon was originally charging users 25 cents per megabyte used after their allowance was reached, which added up to a whopping $256 per gigabyte. While imposing limits and charging overage fees thereafter is the norm (all of the major carriers, including Sprint and AT&T, have similar policies), 25 cents per megabyte was very costly and considerably higher than Sprint’s 5 cents/MB charge (although much lower than AT&T’s sky-high 48 cents/MB overage fees!). Effective Sunday, 5/17/09, Verizon has lowered their overage fees considerably:
- For the $59.99/month plan with 5GB limit, the overage charge has dropped from 25 cents/MB to 5 cents/MB
- For the $39.99/month plan with 250MB limit, the overage charge has dropped from 25cents/MB to 10 cents/MB
- For ALL tethering plans, the overage charge has dropped from 25 cents/MB to 5 cents/MB
All new subscribers who sign up for service or add tethering to their voice plan after 05/17/09 will see these new overage fees, but existing subscribers will not automatically have their fees lowered! To take advantage of the new lower overage charges, you must call Verizon at (800) 922-0204 and ask them to put you on the new plan. This will NOT affect your contract or your monthly rate but could save you quite a bit of money if you do exceed your limit.
Remember, you can always check your data usage online at vzw.com (you’ll need to log in or create an account if you don’t already have one).
Tethering Fees: Verizon has for some time had three different phone-tethering rates in place – one for customers using traditional (non-PDA) phones, one for PDA/Smartphone/Blackberry users signed up for the $29.99/month data package, and a third for PDA/Smartphone/Blackberry users who were signed up for the $44.95/month data package. All three tethering plans will now feature the lower 5 cents/MB overage charge, but only the monthly fee for non-PDA users has changed:
- Regular (non-PDA) phones: $49.99/mo (previously $59.99)
- PDA users with $29.99 PDA package: $30/mo (same as before)
- PDA users with $44.95 PDA package: $15/mo (same as before)
If you are currently subscribed to a tethering package, Verizon will NOT automatically extend these new charges to you. You must call Verizon at (800) 922-0204 and ask them to activate the new feature pricing in order to take advantage of the lower overage charges or the monthly fee for non-PDA users.
These changes from Verizon will have a positive impact on many RVers and their monthly bills. While no one likes paying overage charges, they are becoming the norm amongst service providers and seeing Verizon make the choice to charge less is certainly a positive change, as is increasing the limit of the $39.99/month plan and lowering the tethering fee for non-PDA users. If you’re an existing subscriber, don’t forget to call Verizon to take advantage of these changes – with the exception of the increased limit on the $39.99/month plan, Verizon will NOT automatically change your plan to reflect these new lower fees!
For much more information on phone-tethering, check out this great article.