Verizon Wireless in response to customer data cost concerns today announced free unlimited voice plans for all 4G customers. T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T Mobility responded with similar plans immediately.
For the first time in history, carriers will eliminate voice call charges for customers who sign two-year data/texting plans. The change, according to Lisa Sabrina-Cortez, was made when carriers found its two-year plan customers were only using an average of 10 voice minutes per month.
Customers Make Fewer and Shorter Phone Calls
Ms. Sabrina-Cortez said: “Verizon Wireless’ product managers discovered that 85% of all mobile traffic on 3G/4G networks was data–not voice.” She added: “We were also blown away when learning that average call length dropped from 2.3 minutes in 2008 to 23.5 seconds in 2010. Clearly, our mobile customers (75% of whom purchase data plans with their smartphones), have little desire to make voice calls.”
Free Unlimited Voice Call Plan Description
To qualify for free unlimited voice calls, customers must:
- MegaBucket Plan. Sign a two-year “unlimited plan” covering all services available on the purchased handset. Higher-end devices with unlimited voice, data, text and GPS is only $60 per month on individual plans and $110 for family plans with two lines
- KilaBucket Plan. Customers who only want unlimited voice calls without data receive a $9.77 discount a month
- MinaBucket Plan. Universal services are not available to pre-paid customers, who will pay 47 cents a minute for voice service, $2.25 cents a megabyte for data and 27 cents for each text message sent or received
FCC Carrier Voice Mandate
The new pricing, mandated by the Federal Communications Commission, was ordered when the agency discovered that carriers were “throttling” back voice service, using technology that slowed a mobile customer’s voice, resulting in a two minute call that actually lasted only one minute. Earlier tiered-data plans were also banned after the FCC received thousands of complaints about excessive charges when customers exceeded their plans’ bucket of minutes.
Ms. Sabrina-Cortez acknowledged the practice in her statement but assured reporters that the offending equipment had been removed by Verizon Wireless. When questioned about whether VoIP mobile voice services, mandated by the the FTC in 2011, had anything to do with the practice, she had no comment.
Dan Hesse of Sprint ecstatically proclaimed: “Sprint is 150% behind the new changes for Verizon and will match them bucket for bucket. For some time now, we’ve noticed a drop-off in voice traffic on our 4G network, especially after the release of the EVO-DEVO handset, a combined Android WiMax/LTE device that downloads data at 27Mbps.” He also commented: “Heck, if Verizon gives a way a bucket of voice minutes, Sprint will give three.”
A Verizon Wireless spokesperson announced its new “Parrot Eat All You Want” promotion. The company is giving away one free talking Parrot to the first 100 new customers who switch to its network and purchase a DroidXX, the new and improved version of its top-of the line device. T-Mobile’s spokesperson said it would offer free calls via its network to Germany.
The new free unlimited voice call plan takes effect tomorrow for customers who stand in line after stores close for the night.
…And that’s the latest from XP News. When it comes to MobileTech, turn to XP for the latest. I’m Brian Prows and good night.