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Verizon Shakes Up Handset, Voice, Data Plan Lineups

The realignment focuses largely on the wireless carrier's smartphone portfolio: data plans will now be required on all 3G phones.

In a move to increase its base of data customers before it launches its powerful LTE network later this year, Verizon Wireless announced Friday a series of new pricing plans. Taken together, the plans up the ante on its competitors.

The plans range far and wide covering simple feature phone plans and prepaid plans as well as data plans. President and CEO Lowell McAdam and John Killian, executive vice president, outlined the plans. They said the offerings won't impact existing customers, although subscribers can move to any of the new plans if they wish. The new plans will take effect Jan. 18.

"We think the structure will drive higher penetration of data services," said McAdam. Verizon Wireless, which is co-owned by Verizon Communications (55%) and Vodafone Group (45%), said it plans to introduce "a host of 3G multimedia phones" this year.

Verizon Wireless said the realignment of its plans, which focus largely on its growing smartphone device portfolio, will "simplify customer experience to capture and retain high-value subscribers." The company said data plans will now be required on all 3G phones. McAdam asserted that the new plans will not overload Verizon's network. The company has said it plans to launch its LTE network in 25 to 30 markets later this year.

The firm said it will expand its $9.99-a-month plan for 25 Megabytes to include all of the company's 3G multimedia phones including for the LG enV TOUCH, the Samsung Rogue, LG VCX8360, Motorola Entice W766, Nokia 7705 Twist, and Samsung Alias. The $19.99 data package will no longer be offered.

Users of Simple Feature phones can pay $1.99 per megabyte or choose the $9.99 or $29.99 data packages.

In moves to simplify its offerings, Verizon Wireless said it plans to reduce the number of phones it offers from about 80 to 50 and at the same time to reduce its various voice plans from 40 to six single line and eight family share plans. A new Nationwide Unlimited Talk plan will be $69.99-a-month while a Nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text plan will be $89.99-a-month. Nationwide Unlimited Talk Family Share Plans will be $119.99-a-month while the nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text Family Share Plans will be $149.99 for monthly access.

The company added that some of its prepaid plans will rise $5 a month. The popular prepaid monthly unlimited Talk & Text plan will be available for $74.99 a month.

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