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Verizon Wireless tips LTE smart phone pricing with ThunderBolt launch

Verizon Wireless (VZ) is finally set to unleash one of its LTE-equipped smart phones onto the market with the HTC Corp. ThunderBolt set to be available March 17 for $250 after all rebates and a two-year contract. The device is one of four LTE smart phones the carrier unveiled earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The device will carry a premium pricing over other high-end smart phones, including the Apple Inc. iPhone 4, which have hung to the $200 post-rebate pricing model established by the original Apple device several years ago. Sprint Nextel Corp. is one of the few carriers to have launched a device at a price beyond the $200 mark with the launch of the Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Epic 4G last year, a price that Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse recently noted might have put a damper on its initial sales.
For that premium price, Verizon Wireless is including a 32 gigabyte microSD card to supplement the device’s embedded 8 GB of internal memory, providing a total of 40 GB of memory.
More importantly, the carrier unveiled rate plans for the device that will mirror those currently required for 3G-enabled smart phones. Voice plans will begin at $40 per month with unlimited access to 3G and LTE data services requiring a $30 data package. The data pricing shows that Verizon Wireless is looking to continue to price 3G and LTE data access at the same rate.
Verizon Wireless currently charged $50 per month for 5 GB of data transmission or $80 per month for 10 GB of data transmission for its 3G/LTE enabled wireless modems.
Verizon Wireless is also throwing in mobile hot spot services through the device for free until May 15, at which point customers can continue to service for $20 per month for 2 GB of data transmission. The service allows up to eight devices to access the Internet using the ThunderBolt’s cellular connection for backhaul.
Verizon Wireless has said it plans to launch all four LTE-equipped smart phones shown at CES by this summer.

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