Verizon Wireless demands data plans for non-smartphones

Mobile telephony used to be about voice communications first and foremost, but not any more.

As we head toward the 4G era, and smartphones take the leading share of mobile phones sold, data plans will ultimately take precedence over voice plans.

Today, Verizon Wireless made this shift a little more evident as it unveiled new pricing for its plans which will launch on January 18. These plans cut the cost of voice by as much as 30%, but tack on an additional data consumption fee for all but the simplest feature phones.

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Currently, Verizon smartphone users must pay a premium for having a fully-featured device. They must first have a voice plan, and then pay for a $29.99 unlimited data plan which does not include the cost of sending and receiving text messages. Additionally, users of these devices face a hiked Early Termination Fee for "advanced devices" which drew unfavorable attention from the FCC last month.

Now, Verizon is extending the premiums to "3G Multimedia Devices," or devices that aren't quite smartphones, but that have HTML browsers and are capable of consuming increased amounts of mobile data. The minimum data plan for these devices will be $9.99 per 25MB of data per month, and the maximum will be $29.99 for unlimited monthly data consumption.

Some of the devices which Verizon put in this new category are the LG Chocolate Touch, LG enV3, LG enV Touch, LG VX8360, Motorola Entice, Motorola Rival, Samsung Rogue, Samsung Alias2, and Nokia Twist.

With the addition of this new class of devices, more than half (26 out of 49) of Verizon Wireless' current phones will be required to have a mobile data plan.

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