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Posted at 11:58 AM ET, 06/21/2011

Verizon Wireless to start charging by bits, end flat-rate plans

A Verizon store is seen in Santa Monica, California. (Eric Thayer - GETTY IMAGES)
Verizon Wireless said Tuesday it will introduce billing plans in July that charge new users by how much data they consume, the latest move by a wireless carrier to end all-you-can-eat mobile Internet plans.

Verizon Wireless first indicated the move earlier this year, and the firm didn’t offer specific details. But the practice has gained attention from lawmakers and regulators reviewing the mega merger of AT&T and T-Mobile as they consider how consumers will be affected by fewer wireless carriers to choose from.

“Verizon Wireless is making some minor changes to data plans including those for new smartphone customers,” Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney said in an e-mail statement. “We will move to a more usage based pricing model in July. We’ll have more to share closer to the implementation date.”

Droid Life reported earlier this week the plans will be introduced on July 7 and will include $30 a month for 2GB of data. Verizon may also charge $80 a month for 10GB of data, with tethering to other devices available for an additional $20.

AT&T and T-Mobile have also moved to tiered billing models, saying they face capacity issues on their wireless networks and need to charge the biggest Internet users more.

Consumer groups have urged the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department to reject AT&T’s proposed $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile, saying the deal would eliminate the market’s low-cost national wireless alternative.

T-Mobile’s prices are still considered cheaper than other national carriers. The firm earlier this year, however, said it would begin to throttle performance of customers who exceed their 200 MB cap.

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By  |  11:58 AM ET, 06/21/2011

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