iPhone 5 Release Date: Verizon Lowers Data Prices to Compete with iPhone Deals

As iPhone users anticipate the introduction of iPhone 5, Verizon is slashing its prices to compete with AT&T Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp., with the holiday-shopping season just around the corner.

Verizon Wireless is doubling the size of smartphone data plans to compete for customers and save on capital spending for older wireless technology, said Verizon Communications Inc. Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo.

The largest U.S. wireless operator, co-owned by Verizon Communications and
Vodafone Group, Verizon this week bumped up the amount of data it includes with smartphone plans - to 4 gigabits from 2 gigabits for $30 a month, for example.

"It's beneficial from a financial standpoint," said Mr. Shammo at an investor conference in New York on Wednesday.

The new data offers are a limited-time promotion and new users will keep the higher data allotments for the life of their contracts, a representative for Verizon said.

Verizon's current offer makes its data plans, in some circumstances, less expensive than those from AT&T, the second-largest wireless carrier. AT&T's 4GB plan costs $45 a month, compared with Verizon's $30. Verizon also offers 10GB a month for $50, up from 5GB, and 20GB for $80, up from 10.

If the deal proves successful, the announcement could come as good news for customers waiting for the release of the iPhone 5, as it would lead to more affordable and better data plans for first time buyers.

Although all three providers now sell Apple Inc.'s iPhone 4S, AT&T is the only wireless carrier offering the older iPhone 3GS, which is available for free. Sprint is the only carrier selling the iPhone 4S with unlimited data plans.

The iPhone 5 is expected to launch sometime in 2012.

With AT&T trying to acquire T-Mobile USA, the fourth- largest U.S. wireless operator, Shammo said the industry needs more consolidation to remain healthy.

The U.S. Justice Department sued in August to block AT&T's $39 billion deal to acquire T-Mobile.