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Verizon just made buying a new phone more expensive

Verizon Upgrade Fee

Last week, T-Mobile announced that it’s removing taxes and fees from all customer bills. Verizon has decided to respond to this price war by…raising the already-dubious “upgrade fee” to $30, up from $20 previously. It’s also ending grandfathered unlimited data plans for its heaviest users, who will have to switch to limited rate plans or be disconnected.

Ars Technica spotted the newly increased upgrade fee, which applies “if you purchase a new device at retail price or through [Verizon’s] device payment program.” When the fee was first introduced, it was supposed to help with the mysterious costs involved with giving Verizon money in return for a smartphone. Now, those upgrade fees apparently “help cover increased cost to provide customers with America’s largest and fastest 4G LTE network.”

As Ars notes, Verizon’s capital expenditures (those spent on actually improving the network) are down year-on-year. It’s possible that Verizon is spending ungodly amounts of money on new spectrum or R&D, but it’s equally possible that this is just a fee tacked on because it can.

Separately, Droid Life reported today on Verizon’s decision to end unlimited data contracts for heavy users. You can’t get an unlimited contract on Verizon as a new customer, but a small minority of users are grandfathered into unlimited contracts, and it seems like some of those users are using the mobile data in place of a home broadband connection. Users who use more than 200GB per month, on average, will have their contracts cancelled beginning in February.