Following its quiet rollout of pseudo-BYOD service on the $80 prepaid smartphone plan in the past couple of months where the carrier is allowing previously activated smartphones to be activated on its prepaid service, Verizon has now extended prepaid plan support to what is arguably its most popular smartphone outside of the current model in the iPhone 4 and 4S, but excludes the recently released iPhone 5 .
Verizon (Quietly) OKs iPhone 4/4S on Monthly Prepaid
The new policy officially went into effect earlier this week on the 16th, and has been confirmed by multiple customer service representatives online, in-store and over the phone when asked directly about iPhone support on prepaid, though no effort is being made to overtly advertise the new policy.
This makes Verizon the only major carrier in the US to officially support the iPhone on its own prepaid service without relying on rebranded virtual operators or third parties, as AT&T does not allow the iPhone on prepaid service anymore, and Sprint does not directly offer prepaid iPhone support, leaving that to Virgin Mobile with its own hardware and deliberately locking out Sprint hardware in the process.
While T-Mobile is now offering official iPhone support on prepaid and postpaid and has done so for many months, it has never officially offered its own subsidized version of the device.
While the newly added support for both the iPhone 4 and 4S on the $80 prepaid smartphone plan is being taken as a sign of Verizon’;s increasingly lax policies regarding smartphones on prepaid, the largest Verizon MVNO in Page Plus is still officially restricted from activating the iPhone on its service, despite many that have successfully done so by employing workarounds and backdoors, with no word yet on when and if the policy will change anytime soon, even with the latest development.
Page Plus Adds More to “The 55”, At A Higher Cost
Still, there are signs that Page Plus is preparing a counter offer for its current smartphone customers and new customers that want even more data per month than what the current Verizon monthly prepaid unlimited plan allows for customers with smartphones. As it stands, “The 55” is Page Plus’s response to the more expensive $80 Verizon smartphone plan, by offering unlimited voice and SMS messaging for $55 a month while more data access is allotted per month at 2GB, with the caveat that MMS messaging and mobile data access are taken out of the same monthly data allotment, which forces the majority of customers on “The 55” plan to sparingly use MMS messaging on smartphones.
According to many insiders that have seen the new plan, within the next few weeks, Page Plus will be rolling out a new smartphone oriented plan for heavier data users that are currently constrained by the limitations of “The 55” plan while adding the most requested feature in unlimited MMS messaging, albeit at a modest price increase that places it $10 below Verizon’s prepaid plan before taxes and is $15 more than “The 55” plan.
Known internally as “The 69” plan, the new plan features additions from the prior “55” plan in unlimited MMS messaging as well as the unlimited voice and SMS messaging of The 55 plan and increases the total monthly data allotment to 6GB a month without being affected by MMS usage, as was the case with the previous plan. The new plan will cost $69.99 per month, reflecting the increased costs of improving the service plan in order to draw even more users, while moving away from its previous a la carte per-minute offerings and a la carte messaging bundles for families and users on tighter budgets.
Whether the new plan will do what Page Plus intends remains to be seen, as other competitors in StraightTalk and Simple Mobile have managed to offer even more services without having to increase pricing, such as the increasingly popular multi-carrier GSM BYOD program and in Simple Mobile’s case, actually reducing monthly pricing for increased service.
While Page Plus has the current advantage of CDMA BYOD and access to the largest native coverage area, one has to wonder how long that will last given Verizon’s rapid transition to LTE, as the carrier is pushing LTE service heavily and has ceased actively offering CDMA only smartphones on postpaid service to new customers, preferring instead to push hybrid CDMA/4G LTE devices almost exclusively.
With many smartphone users on PagePlus now clamoring for LTE access in order to have access to Verizon’s slate of 4G LTE smartphones, one now has to wonder how long it will be before Page Plus is allowed to officially support 4G LTE as the emphasis moves away from 3G service in the next 18-24 months. Verizon also has its part to play in this, as it also competes with Page Plus and may be reticent to allow it LTE access so soon after allowing increased data allotments for smartphones that routinely beat its own offerings.
The next few months will see some major changes for both Page Plus and Verizon on the prepaid front and may even herald a new era for the still surging prepaid sector.