It was expected, and now it is official: Verizon will offer the same $30 unlimited 3G data plan it currently offers on other smartphones for the upcoming iPhone 4. At the same time, mobile hotspot costs were detailed as well.
Here is what Verizon CEO Lowell MacAdam said
to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday: “I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot.”
Although the WSJ said that the decision was because "not offering an unlimited plan would put up a barrier for customers who might otherwise switch from AT&T," it's not so much that not offering a plan would be a barrier as it is that offering an unlimited plan is an incentive.
AT&T currently does not offer an unlimited data plan for its smartphones, including the iPhone. It has two tiers, which the highest level one being priced at $25 for 2GB monthly. Although few even approach that number, it's been see as a negative by many, who prefer not to bother worrying about limits, period.
It is true that users who previously had earlier AT&T smartphone plans are grandfathered into unlimited plans, so that could be a potential "roadblock," as Verizon said, for cross-overs from AT&T.
This also probably means that Verizon will not change any smartphone plans for other devices, as well. There has been speculation, however, that the fun will not last, and that Verizon will eventually cap data on its smartphones, after the initial iPhone rush.
In terms of the mobile hotspot service, Verizon confirmed, later in the day, that pricing for the mobile hotspot feature would the $20, the same as its other smartphone owners pay.
Once activated, the mobile hotspot will appear as if it were a wireless router to devices in the area. Up to 5 can be connected at once. However, the data from the hotspot comes from a limited, different data pool, which is limited to 2 GB of use a month.
Thus far, although Sprint and Verizon offer mobile hotspots on many of their devices, AT&T has eschewed the feature, not providing it on any of its devices. For the iPhone 4, AT&T provides a tethering service, which supports only one device, connected via Bluetooth or cable. Additionally, AT&T does not provide a separate pool of data; instead a customer must be subscribed to the iPhone’s $25 per month 2GB data plan, and any tethered use counts against that limit.
It's expected that Apple will add mobile hotspot capability to iOS 4.3 (Verizon is using the still unreleased 4.2.5 for its iPhone 4). It's unclear if AT&T will support the feature initially, based on the delays it placed on both MMS and tethering when those were added to iOS.