Verizon quietly hikes prices similar to AT&T

Last month, Verizon said it was making fee “adjustments,” which included an administrative charge increase of $1.35 per voice line to $3.30.

But last Friday, the carrier confirmed to CNET that it’s raising rates for older, shared data plans as well, and those are very similar to what AT&T announced.

Here’s what a Verizon spokesperson told Fierce today:

“While we recommend our Shared Data Plan customers migrate to an unlimited plan to take advantage of all we have to offer, we are not requiring it. That said, for the limited number of consumer customers remaining on these accounts, we will be introducing a rate plan adjustment in their next bill to account for the added cost of maintaining these legacy plans,” the statement said.

Wireless postpaid consumer customers on all metered shared data plans will see a plan rate adjustment charge of $6 per month for a single-line phone account and $12 per month for multi-line phone accounts, effective with their next bill cycle, according to Verizon.

Pricing in wireless looks to be all over the place these days as inflation worries trigger increases and others seek to do the opposite. During a Credit Suisse investor conference this week, AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches warned there could be additional price increases.

In a report for investors Thursday, analysts at New Street Research evaluated the impact of price increases in the wireless sector.

“AT&T’s price increase on legacy metered plans should stick now that Verizon has joined them. We still don’t expect T-Mobile or cable to follow with price increases, but both should find it easier to take share as their price discount widens,” wrote New Street analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

Regarding Verizon specifically, the impact of the wireless price increase is positive in the near term but “comes in the context of a business that we suspect is struggling to grow subs," he wrote.

Pushing subscribers "from metered to unlimited plans via the price increase has benefits beyond the incremental revenue... However, the price increase may frustrate subscriber growth further,” Chaplin said. "Longer-term, increasing prices to offset sluggish volume growth is not a great way to sustainably grow the value of the business.”

Generally, a lot of the price changes among the carriers have been relatively subtle, according to Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research, which closely follows pricing trends among all the carriers.

“Carriers do have a way of subtly getting around headline price hikes,” Moore said. For example, they always have the option of deleting a plan and starting a new one. They can then claim the new plan includes more data, more hotspots, more roaming or what not.

Or they can simply hike prices by giving the plan a new name. “That’s always an option they have in their back pocket,” he said.