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Verizon to offer $50 unlimited prepaid plan this week


Verizon eased into the pre-paid unlimited market in April, offerings its "Unleashed" plan in parts of Florida and California. This week, it plans to roll out the deal nationally, offering unlimited talk, text and Internet use for $50 a month.

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While Verizon has enjoyed strong post-paid growth adding 1.3 million postpaid customers and 2.2 million net additions total during the second quarter it has uncharacteristically lagged behind competitors in the prepaid segment. While Sprint boosted prepaid subscribers by 23%, to a total of 13.8 million, and number-five carrier MetroPCS grew its prepaid base by 19% during the quarter, Verizon, the nation`s largest carrier, added 3.4% fewer new prepaid customers than a year ago, according to figures posted by the Wall Street Journal.

Verizon is forging ahead strongly with its 4G LTE network and app-ecosystem efforts (CP: Verizon overhauls mobile app store; targets enterprise smartphones) and in all likelihood should see strong iPhone 5 sales this fall. Now, it has apparently also recognized the need to focus on the arguably less sexy realms of feature phone and prepaid accounts which, in in these cash-strapped economic times, are experiencing swift growth (CP: Sprint`s Boost Mobile the preferred carrier in growing prepaid market).

By the end of the upcoming holiday season, U.S. no-contract prepaid subscribers are expected to, for the first time, account for approximately 25% of all wireless subscribers, putting the U.S. more in line with other prepaid-savvy nations, the New Millennium Research Council think tank stated in a July report.

The report stressed that the importance of the unlimited aspect; while traditional prepaid subscriptions lost users between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010, prepaid unlimited plans grew by 7.4 million subscribers a jump of 45%.

A spring report from Nielsen pointed to the recent recession, which created a number of American consumers who couldn`t quality for post-paid plans, as the number-one driver of wireless prepaid`s growth. The top non-credit related reasons, Nielsen discovered, are the appeal of the plans` simplicity, the lack of a monthly bill and the freedom of no contract.

Verizon says it`s aware of the current market and challenges to consumers.

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


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