Verizon's 4G LTE Pricing May Not Be Best Available Deal

News Analysis: You have to be careful how much data you use with Verizon's 4G LTE network or it'll cost you big time.

At first glance, the pricing plan that Verizon Wireless announced for its 4G LTE service on Dec. 1 didn't seem like a bad deal. For $50 you get 5 GB of data, and you pay $10 for every gigabyte over that.

Alternatively, you can pay $80 for 10 GB of data per month, and then pay $10 per gigabyte for the overage. Sounds reasonable, given the high speeds available, the low latency, and the fact that the initial devices will be for laptop computers, so you don't have to worry about voice minutes.

But is it really a good deal? And is it a good deal over the long term? Those LTE USB devices will cost you $99 only if you sign up for a two year contract. You can get them without a contract, but they'll cost $249. Compare these rates against the competition, and you'll find that a great deal depends on how you plan to use your 4G device, and how much data you expect to use.

For example, Clearwire will give you 4G access at slightly lower speeds for $55 a month, with no limit on how much data you consume. So if you use less that 5 GB, Verizon Wireless is cheaper. But any overage on Verizon will cost you that extra 10 dollars per gigabyte. T-Mobile has a different approach. Their 4G data pricing is also about $50, but there are no overage charges. Instead, T-Mobile just throttles your speed after you pass your 5 GB. T-Mobile has a variety of other 4G plans depending on what you're doing with it and what kind of device you're using.

So looking at the competition, it would appear that Verizon Wireless has a pricing plan that's competitive with the other carriers at the 5 gig level. At the 10 GB level, it's pretty expensive, especially when compared against Sprint/Clearwire. But it's faster than the Clear version of 4G, and as long as you regularly consume 10 GB of data every month, you'll avoid having your speeds throttled as you would with T-Mobile. But to make the Verizon Wireless 10 GB plan worth it, you have to regularly consume a lot of data while being careful not to go over that limit.

Fortunately, Verizon Wireless makes it relatively easy to keep your data limits in view. The company will send out text messages as data is consumed, so when you get to 90 percent of your data usage for the month, you shouldn't be surprised.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...