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6/20/2011
11:37 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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AT&T Vs. Verizon: Which Data Plan Is Better?

With Verizon set to roll out tiered mobile data plans, comparisons with other carriers' pricing schemes are in order.

Last September, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said that Big Red would move to tiered data plans, in favor of the current all-you-can-eat plans they now offer, within six months. While a few months late, he is holding to his word. The changes are expected to take place on July 7.

Droid Life says that the 2-GB plan will be $30. That is just a bit more than AT&T's $25 2-GB DataPro plan for the iPhone. T-Mobile is a bit harder to compare to, no doubt by design. It doesn't offer pure data plans but sells most of its services in an Even More bundle. If you pick it apart, you can estimate T-Mobile's 2-GB plan is $20 per month. That puts Verizon at the high end of the scale.

Verizon also has a 5-GB plan for $50 and 10 GB for $80. If you want to tether another device to your phone, it will cost you an extra $20 per month, but Verizon will throw in an extra 2 GB. Overages are charged at the rate of $10 per GB. If you need a lot of data, your choice is Verizon. Tethering on a 10-GB plan will cost you $100 per month but give you 12 GB. AT&T's biggest plan is 4 GB, which includes tethering, for $45. With overage fees, 12 GB on AT&T's network would cost $125. For reasonable monthly data consumption, AT&T is a bit cheaper, but if you chew through data, Verizon has the better rates.

Unlike AT&T and T-Mobile, it doesn't appear Verizon will offer a modest 200-MB plan for light data users. More people fall into that category than you might think. Verizon also charges a $15 premium for users who want to connect their phone to a corporate server, because, you know, corporate data causes more wear and tear on Verizon's data tubes than personal data. It is unknown if that $15 premium will still exist when the tiered pricing structure goes into effect.

On the plus side, Verizon doesn't seem to be making a distinction between 4G and 3G data, so if you have one of its faster devices, no need to worry--yet--that there will be a premium to use it.

Chances are existing users will be grandfathered in, so if you have an unlimited plan and want to make changes to some other part of your plan, now is the time to lessen the possibility they will flip you into a 2-GB plan for the same money you are paying for unlimited right now. If you are thinking of signing up with Verizon, now is definitely the time to do that as well, because after July 7, you'll likely get far less bang for your buck.

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