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Friday, January 15, 2010, 04:35 am PT (07:35 am ET)

Verizon undercuts AT&T, reduces monthly voice plan by $29

Competition in the mobile landscape became more intense Friday, when Verizon Wireless announced it has cut its basic voice plan by $29 per month, to $69.99 for unlimited calling.

Verizon also has an unlimited voice and text plan for customers available at $89.99 per month. But while Verizon is reducing its voice plans, those on its low-end data plans will see an increase.

The nation's largest wireless provider also announced Friday that while its basic wireless service fee would see a $29 reduction, the company was also doing away with its $19.99 75MB data package for 3G multimedia phones. In its place is the 25MB, $9.99-per-month plan for all 3G phones, giving access to e-mail, games and the Internet.

MarketWatch cited Walter Piecyk of Pali Research, who said the changes amount to an average 30 percent cut in voice plans and 50 percent increase in the cost of data with Verizon. In all, it amounts to an 8 percent to 10 percent reduction for users of the company's high-end rate plans.

Verizon's pricing changes, the report noted, could force AT&T to do the same to remain competitive.

The reductions come just days after a company official told The Wall Street Journal that in the future, customers will likely be charged for data based on how much they use in a given month. "We will end up billing differently in the future," said Dick Lynch, chief technology officer with the company.

Verizon officials believe that metered bandwidth costs will be beneficial to most customers, who do not use large amounts of data every month. Lynch said the average customer's bill would be lower if they paid for what they actually use.

Verizon's billing changes come as it has been in a heated battle with the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., AT&T. The two companies were involved in a heavily publicized legal battle that was eventually dropped, though both companies remain engaged in advertising that heavily criticizes the other.

Verizon has parodied Apple's "There's an app for that" slogan by comparing its superior coverage 3G coverage map with AT&T, using the tagline "There's a map for that." And AT&T hired actor Luke Wilson to "set the record straight" on AT&T's coverage and point out areas where AT&T beats Verizon, like the ability to make calls and access data on handsets at the same time.

Verizon's comments on the prospect of tiered data plans were similar to what AT&T President Ralph de La Vega said last month. The AT&T executive's comments led to rumors that the wireless provider intended to introduce tiered plans for iPhone users, something the company emphatically denied was in the works.