Verizon Debuts Data Usage, Monitoring Tools

Verizon Wireless smartphone and tablet customers now have a variety of ways to monitor and manage wireless data usage.

While network operator Verizon Wireless is causing a stir this week by announcing the end of unlimited data plans, to be replaced with a three-tiered pricing structure, the company also unveiled a slew of applications, tools and online tutorials aimed at educating its customers and giving them the ability to check their data consumption habits.

Verizon Wireless smartphone and tablet customers now have a variety of ways to monitor and manage their wireless data usage, including text message alerts that will be sent to smartphone customers to help them keep track of monthly domestic data usage. Starting this week, smartphone users will begin to receive free text message alerts when their data usage crosses thresholds of 50 percent, 75 percent, 90 percent, 100 percent and 110 percent of their data plans' monthly allowances.

Customers who are registered with My Verizon, the online account management tool, may also request email alerts and can add up to three additional email addresses to receive the notifications. My Verizon users also have the option of suppressing the 50 percent and 75 percent alerts. Email alerts for the same threshold levels are already available to tablet, netbook, PC card and Mobile Broadband device customers on usage-based plans.

Verizon Wireless offers a variety of free tools that customers can use to monitor and manage their accounts. Customers can check data usage by dialing #DATA and pressing send from Verizon Wireless phones to receive a free text message with the information, and can monitor data usage directly from their handsets via My Verizon Mobile or online through My Verizon.

At the company's official Web site, customers can learn about common features and activities that utilize data and determine estimated total monthly data usage using the Data Usage Calculator. It can be found by searching for "data usage calculator" on the Verizon Wireless website. Customers with data plans also can also download a Data Usage Widget to most Google Android smartphones and Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry devices and tablets. The widget tracks usage with a glance at the phone screen and with one click connects to the customer's My Verizon Mobile account.

Verizon has also developed a series of video guides that offer tips for customers on how to manage their wireless lives, including "It's Easy To Track Your Wireless Usage", which highlights ways for customers to check and monitor usage, "Tips For Traveling Overseas", which offers tips for customers on how to prepare their phones for overseas travel, and "Controlling Wireless Usage", which demonstrates how customers can use Usage Controls to monitor wireless usage for each line on their accounts.

In addition, the company posted one other video, "Managing Wireless Access: Content Filters", which showcases features of Content Filters that allow customers to make sure wireless content is age-appropriate. Customers can also visit Verizon Wireless Support to view "How To" videos with step-by-step directions on different aspects of account management, the company noted in a press release.

Verizon's new pricing structure offers customers monthly plans of $30 for 2GB of data, $50 for 5GB of data and $80 for 10GB of data. A $10 plan for 75MB of data is available to customers with feature phones with limited Internet capabilities. The decision sees Verizon following rival carriers T-Mobile and AT&T in switching from an all-you-can-eat service to a tiered approach.