Verizon Dumps Renewal Upgrade Option

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Verizon Wireless will drop its 10-year-old "New Every Two" upgrade plan this month.

The plan rewards existing customers who renew a two-year contract after 20 months by giving them a discount on top of the new contract price for a new device.

A Verizon spokeswoman told Information Week that the carrier will stop offering the plan to users who sign up for service starting on January 16 -- a few weeks before the iPhone 4 launches on its network. Those who already have service (and meet the requirements) will be able to use the discount one more time according to PC Magazine.

That means that Big Red customers could use their $30 to $50 discount on an iPhone 4 in February or any other device in the future.

Verizon has altered the promo rates of the program in the past, likely due to the arrival of highly-discounted smartphones. A FAQ on its website says customers who subscribed before February 15, 2009 got a $50 to $100 discount.

It's no secret that carriers take a hit when selling smartphones, but recoup the costs with monthly service. Verizon is probably backing off the plan to prevent losses from people upgrading early. It will also ensure the CDMA iPhone is sold for the same price as the rival AT&T version -- $199.99 for the 16GB flavor and $299.99 for the 32GB.

ChangeWave released data this week that shows 16 percent of AT&T customers surveyed in December planned to switch to Verizon when they had the iPhone, 23 percent weren't sure and 60 percent said they would stay with AT&T. It is interesting to note that 26 percent of current AT&T iPhone owners surveyed said they planned on making the change.

Verizon will undoubtedly be dodging a bullet if those numbers become a reality.

The carrier is already investing in improvements to its 3G network in anticipation of the iPhone launch. I'm guessing it doesn't also want to have to pick up part of the tab every time its customers can't wait two years to upgrade to a new version of Apple's smartphone.

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