Verizon confirms $30 unlimited data plan for iPhone

'Jump on it,' recommends analyst. 'It won't last.'

Verizon will retain its $30 monthly fee for unlimited data when the iPhone 4 launches in two weeks, the company confirmed today.

Earlier Tuesday, Lowell McAdam, Verizon's COO, told the Wall Street Journal, that the carrier would offer its unlimited data plan to new iPhone customers, adding that high prices would stifle switching from AT&T, still the only U.S. carrier that offers Apple's iconic smartphone. "I'm not going to shoot myself in the foot," he told the newspaper.

Also today, a Verizon customer service representative said that iPhone 4 customers will be able to sign up for the $30 unlimited data plan, although he left the door open to last-minute changes.

Later, a Verizon spokeswoman confirmed McAdam's comments. "Lowell [McAdam] did say that the $29.99 data plan, available now for smartphone customers, would be available for iPhone customers," she said in an e-mail reply to questions.

Verizon and Apple will start selling the iPhone 4 on Feb. 10 , with existing Verizon customers getting first crack when the carrier begins taking pre-orders Thursday, Feb. 3.

Verizon's current data plans include a $15 per month plan that allows 150MB of data on 3G devices, and a $29.99 per month plan for unlimited data.

Voice plans at the carrier start at $39.99 for 450 minutes, and top out at $69.99 for unlimited calling minutes.

Previously, analysts split over whether Verizon would raise the price of its data plans with the iPhone's debut, with one claiming the carrier would charge as much as $120 per month for unlimited data.

"It's not unexpected," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, who wasn't the one who speculated two weeks ago that data plan costs might climb dramatically. "It is interesting that they're allowing an unlimited plan, because in the long term they're unsustainable. There's only so much bandwidth."

Later Tuesday, Verizon's McAdam said that the $30 unlimited data plan for the iPhone 4 would be a temporary offer, and that the company would, like its rival AT&T, shift to a more granular tiered pricing model soon.

"If customers want this, they should jump on it," added Gold. "It won't last."

While McAdam didn't offer specific reasons for keeping the unlimited plan, Gold filled in the blanks.

"This is part of the play by Verizon to get customers to move to the iPhone quickly, and to give AT&T customers a reason to jump ship," Gold said. "It's not a bad move."

Last June, AT&T dumped its $30 unlimited data plan for new iPhone customers, replacing it with two new plans, a $15 deal with a 200MB allowance, and a $25 plan that caps data at 2GB.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

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