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Verizon switching to tiered data plans in July

Dan Mead, left, chief executive of Verizon Wireless,

Dan Mead, left, chief executive of Verizon Wireless, and Tim Cook, chief operating officer of Apple, announced on Jan. 11, 2011 that Verizon Wireless will carry Apple's iPhone in New York City. Credit: AP

If you’re thinking of about switching over to Verizon Wireless, you may want to do it now -- or at least by July 7.

Verizon Wireless is set to introduce a tiered data plan pricing, similar to AT&T's, a move that would affect heavy mobile Internet users.

Verizon Wireless spokesman David Samberg said the company is "making some minor changes to data plans, including those for new smartphone customers. We will be moving to a more usage based model in July."

Although he didn't go into specific details, Verizon internal memos have leaked on the Internet detailing the new pricing.

According to the memos, customers who sign new contracts after July 7 will be offered the following data usage options: $30 for 2GB, $50 for 5GB, and $80 for 10GB. Go over those tiers and it'll cost an additional $10 per gigabyte.

The plans will apply to both 3G and 4G connections.

Remember, those prices are only for Internet data; the cost of minutes and text messages are separate.

Verizon Wireless currently charges $29.99 for unlimited data.

The good news is that current customers (or those who get in before July 7) are grandfathered into the unlimited monthly data plan and will be allowed to keep the plan even when upgrading to new phones.

Tech blog Engadget got their hands on a Verizon internal memo explaining the imminent changes.

Data usage has more than doubled over the last three years. Consumers and business users alike are doing more and more with their mobile devices. The notion of "send and end" has migrated to "managing multiple aspects of one's lifestyle through mobility." Whether it's social media (85%+ of Smartphone users), mobile internet (88%+ of Smartphone users), or email/applications (71%+ of Smartphone users), this usage has one thing in common-dramatically increased demand for data and media consumption.

As a result, we are evolving our approach around how we package our data solutions and pricing to our customers.

If you’re not sure how much data you use, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint all have monthly personalized data counters available for viewing on your online account.

But according to a 2010 report by Maravedis, a wireless market research company, the average smartphone user consumes about 255.5 MB per day, so you might not have anything to worry about.

Take a look at some of the report’s estimates below and figure out where you stand before that July 7 deadline.

- Less than 10 emails sent/received (no attachments) = 2.5MB
- 1 email with photo attachment = 10MB
- 3 emails sent/received (with attachment) = 12 MB
- Average 5 minutes of streaming music per day (or total 2.5hrs per month) = 72MB
- 5 Web pages visited = 25MB
- 0-1 applications downloaded (games/songs) per day= 60MB
- 10 social media posts = 14 MB
- Average 1 minute of streaming video per day or (30 minutes per month) = 60 MB

Total data usage per month: 255.5MB

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