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There is a new prepaid option in wireless, and it’s coming from Verizon.
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Verizon completed its , and on Wednesday is set to make its biggest move in the space since then. Dubbed Total by Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier is adding a new prepaid brand to its stable that is designed to take on Metro by T-Mobile and AT&T’s Cricket Wireless.
“I will tell you that right now our competitors are Metro and Cricket. I mean, I have no problem saying it,” said Eduardo Diaz Corona, president and CEO of Tracfone Wireless. “And we believe we bring a lot more value to the table, and with the rollout of our exclusive stores we’ll also enhance the experience that consumers are going to have.”
The carrier says that the new Total brand will be available “at more than 50,000 retail locations, including Walmart, Target and Dollar General” as well as in special Total by Verizon retail stores and online. There will be four plan options, with the cheapest plan running $30 per month for a single line and including 5GB of high-speed data (after which you are slowed down to “2G speeds” though Verizon would not confirm just how slow these speeds are).
For $40 per month, you will get 15GB of high-speed data (again, slowed down to “2G speeds” if you exceed that allotment) while the $50 per month will move you to unlimited high-speed data to go along with 10GB of dedicated hotspot data, a six-month promo for Disney Plus and unlimited talk and text to “five countries of choice” out of a list of 69. These three plans all include unlimited talk and text in the US and the ability to connect to Verizon’s 5G Nationwide network, the .
For $60 per month, you can get 20GB of dedicated hotspot data, the ability to connect to Verizon’s fastest 5G Ultra Wideband networks, unlimited talk and text to 69 countries and will have Disney Plus bundled in. Each plan will allow you to add up to four additional lines, though it will be costly at $35 per line, per month for each extra one you add.
Verizon clarified on Thursday that for the 5GB plan, it will just be $30 per each additional line, per month.
Four lines of the cheapest 5GB per month option will run $120 per month at Total by Verizon while the priciest $60 per month unlimited option would be $165 per month for four lines ($60 for the first line, $105 for lines two through four).
Verizon says it will take “5% off all plans” if you set up “auto-refill” which automatically renews your service each month. As this is a prepaid option, there are no contracts and you pay for service in advance. The plans are also available with the Federal Communication Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which is a $30 monthly credit for eligible households that meet the government’s requirements.
“What we want is that value-conscious consumer that wants a no-contract relationship, but at the same time, they care about the connectivity for the family,” said Diaz Corona.
Total by Verizon’s plans.
Rival prepaid options like T-Mobile’s Metro by T-Mobile and AT&T’s Cricket each operate their own stores around the country. Both prepaid alternatives also offer unlimited data plans with full access to their respective 5G networks for $100 per month for four lines, as well as 5GB options at $30 per month for a single line. Total by Verizon joins Tracfone, Verizon Prepaid and Visible as smaller Verizon-owned wireless brands.
Metro’s top unlimited plan runs $120 per month for four lines and includes 15GB of hotspot data, a subscription to Amazon Prime, 100GB of Google One storage and a year of Vix Plus (TelevisaUnivision’s Spanish-language streaming service). Cricket’s top unlimited plan costs $130 per month and similarly has 15GB of dedicated hotspot data, a subscription to HBO Max with Ads and unlimited texting from the US to 37 countries.
In addition to Metro and Cricket there are a number of other prepaid options Total by Verizon will need to compete with. If you don’t need unlimited data or family plans, Boost Mobile and Mint Mobile , particularly if you’re a new customer.
Update, Sept. 22: Verizon will charge $30 for each additional line for those on the cheapest 5GB per month plan. Those on the $40 per month (or higher plans) will pay $35 per month, per line for each extra line they add. The story has been updated to reflect this.
Your guide to a better future