Verizon Revamps 3G Overage Plan

Verizon used to offer "unlimited" BroadbandAccess, its name for its 3G EVDO service. After an investigation by the New York State Attorney General that led to no charges, Verizon agreed to change its terms and terminology. Their new high-end plan had a 5 GB cap, exquisitely spelled out, with 49 cents per MB ($490 per gig!) overage charges with new contracts; a lower-end plan capped usage at 50 MB per month. As you approached the monthly limit, you're warned via email, text message, and your connection software, which shows actual--not estimated--usage.The new plan, reported by EVDOinfo, drops the overage rate to 25 cents/MB ($250 per GB), and caps the charge at $250 for the first three months of overage. After that, you're subject to the full charges, and you'll get notification of that fact, too. This is true for both 50 MB and 5 GB plans, by the way. A 50 MB plan is just $20 per month less ($40) than the 5 GB plan ($60) with a 2-year contract.Verizon is also adding an "executive" plan: 10 GB per month for $200. Rather pricey, but for those who routinely exceed the 5 GB cap, and for whom money isn't precisely an object, it might be the right plan. I always recommend a combination of 3G and Wi-Fi service to avoid crossing these sorts of limits: unlimited Wi-Fi plans are $20 to $30 per month for domestic U.S. coverage at 10,000 to 30,000 locations, depending on the provider. Alltel, the No. 5 U.S. carrier, just announced a plan today that combines its 3G EVDO offering with unlimited Wi-Fi for $70 per month. Verizon is the process of acquiring Alltel.

I have long thought 5 GB was far too low: it represents about a continuous half-hour of average speed downloading per day averaged across a month. The cell carriers say only a small percentage of users cross that 5 GB barrier, and they may be right. But setting that number at 10 GB would sweep fewer customers in without increasing costs hardly at all to the providers, who have to maintain precisely the same infrastructure for either level of cap.

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