Verizon Sets Rate Plan for Wireless Biz Users

Early next month, Verizon Wireless will launch a rate plan based on kilobit usage for business customers who use the company's 1XRTT Express Network.

Verizon Wireless Inc. on April 2 will launch a new rate plan based on kilobit usage for business customers who use the companys 1XRTT Express Network.

The rates start at $35 per month for 10MB, $55 per month for 20MB and up to $150 for 150MB--the last aimed at customers who wirelessly download large attachments like Microsoft Corp.s PowerPoint presentations via a wireless connection from a laptop computer with a wireless modem.

"There are more laptops out there than there are other data devices," said Tole Hart, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn. "The big things are the attachments."

In part because of attachments, one billing option that carriers are unlikely to offer, according to partners and analysts, is a flat, monthly per-user charge for wireless services--even though large enterprise customers are used to paying monthly fees for software licenses and other services. Officials at Verizon, in Bedminster, N.J., said there was no plan for flat-rate pricing. AT&T Wireless Services Inc. will continue to charge on a per-usage basis, with service plans that offer "varying buckets" of data, according to company spokesman Ritch Blasi in Redmond, Wash.

Officials at Sprint PCS Group and Cingular Wireless declined to comment on future plans. But officials at Amdocs Ltd., in St. Louis, which provides billing services for those companies, said carriers are "very fearful" of offering a flat rate for wireless because it makes the service seem like a commodity, which could result in major bandwidth consumption.

A more likely option, according to Gartners Hart, is a "pooled megabyte" system, wherein corporations can buy a big chunk of kilobytes in bulk and share it among employees.

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