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Verizon joins T-Mobile, AT&T with early phone upgrade plan

'Edge' allows six-month switcheroos – if you pay 50% of phone's price

Well, that was quick. The number-one US wireless carrier, Verizon Wireless, has announced its plan, dubbed Edge, to allow its subscribers to upgrade their phones more quickly, not unlike the recently announced T-Mobile Jump and AT&T Next plans.

"If you want to stay on top of the latest technology, the new Verizon Edge device payment plan offers an affordable way to upgrade to the newest device and satisfy your love of technology," Verizon said in its announcement of the new program on Thursday.

Like both Next and Jump, Edge allows you to upgrade your Verizon-supplied phone before the end of a two-year service contract. Also like the two competing plans, it gets Verizon out from under having to pay smartphone manufacturers a subsidy for the privilege of providing their phones to its customers.

Also like T-Mobile's scheme, Edge spreads the payment plan out over 24 months; AT&T's plan has a 20-month cycle. Like Jump, Edge allows you to switch phones after six months – AT&T's Next requires a wait of one year – but there's a catch: with Verizon's plan, you'll need to pay 50 per cent of the original phone's retail price before you can move to a new handset.

T-Mobile has no such requirement in their Jump plan, and since AT&T requires a wait of 12 months in its 20-month payment cycle, over 50 per cent of that phone's price will have already been paid by the subscriber.

On top of your monthly phone payment you'll also be charged for the service plan you choose, but like the plans of its competitors, Verizon Edge participants won't be charged an upgrade fee when they swap phones or pay a financing charge for its service.

Verizon will offer Edge only to subscribers participating in its Share Everything group-account plan, which can accommodate up to 10 devices. AT&T has no such requirement, although it limits Next participation to two devices per account; T-Mobile's Jump has no such requirement or limitation.

Like T-Mobile's Jump, Edge applies only to phones – at least as announced on Thursday – while AT&T's Next plan extends to tablets. That limitation, however, may possibly change before Edge makes it to the market on August 25, seeing as how it appears that Verizon's hand was forced by AT&T and T-Mobile's announcements. (Jump went into effect on July 14, and Next will begin on July 26.)

Since Verizon hasn't yet published all the fine print about Edge, you can sign up for updates about the plan, should you choose to turn over your email address to a major US wireless provider, and don't mind receiving additional missives about "related products, services and payment and commerce solutions" from Verizon Wireless and its third-party service providers. ®

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