The long-awaited details of Verizon’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G wireless service will emerge Dec. 1, in a press conference call that Big Red announced today. The main speaker will be senior veep and chief wireless technology officer Tony Melone (in photo), who appears to have taken over the lead-wireless-spokesperson role from Dick Lynch, who is CTO of the “Big V” Verizon, and not just Verizon Wireless.
What exactly will Verizon announce Wednesday? With the launch cities and airport markets already detailed back in October, what’s left are two critical components — pricing and data caps. We have no inside information so the best we can hazard is a guess that Verizon won’t stray too much from the existing wireless-data status quo. The official Sidecut Reports guess on pricing and plans is:
Devices: $100 (after rebate) for either of the USB modems that Verizon will offer. Any and all are almost guaranteed to be hybrid 3G/4G modems, since Mr. Melone told us that they would be so back in the spring. Makes sense, since Verizon’s 4G network will be incomplete at the start and the last thing Verizon wants is a modem that doesn’t connect to something.
Pricing plans: Our best guess in the pricing arena is that whatever Verizon starts with, it will be changed quite quickly since pricing in the mobile-broadband market is a moving target with lots of possible tweaks. But coming out of the gate I would look for two plans — one something in the 1 GB/2 GB of data download allowed per month for $50, and an “unlimited” or “We really mean unlimited up to 5 GB per month” for $70 or $80.
Our analysis for these guesses? With a huge LTE promotion on tap for CES, where Verizon has already promised that it will show off LTE phones, tablets and portable hotspots, there’s no need for Big Red to leave dough on the table for the business-professional audience that will be its first customers for 4G data services. The $70 or $80 per-month charge will likely be sold as a “premium” or “3G plus” service, and at $10 to $20 above the current average 3G data charge that’s a justifiable expense.
Possible surprises include perhaps some sort of prepaid data plan, but with the cost of the devices likely to remain high (until more LTE networks appear and the manufacturing economies of scale kick in) it’s doubtful that any consumer would find it worthwhile to buy an “unlocked” LTE device for $500 or $600 just so they don’t have to sign a 2-year contract. The first adopters for LTE 4G already have a mobile-data component locked in to their monthly communications budget, so contract don’t scare them. Though we aren’t expecting one for the initial launch, a 4G LTE portable hotspot would really rev up Verizon’s iPad campaign and give it another tool to bludgeon poor AT&T with.
(Follow me @paulkaps on Twitter for live tweets during the press conference call. Guaranteed to entertain if you are a 4G kinda geek.)