NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Wireless is expected to cut the price of its high-speed wireless Internet service by as much as 25 percent early next week in a bid to increase its customer base for the service, one analyst said on Friday.
The No. 2 U.S mobile service and the country's first to sell wireless Web links with speeds comparable to some home broadband services, will cut its $80 a month rate plan to about $60 in a bid to stay ahead of rivals such as Sprint Nextel, said American Technology Research analyst Albert Lin.
"I think it'll be a significant cut," said Lin, who declined to name his sources. "I think they're trying to maximize the time they have as a monopoly in order to build a customer base lead before there's competition."
Verizon Wireless was not immediately available to comment.
Lin said the price cut for Verizon Wireless' service plan for laptop computer users should put the service, mainly aimed at business people until now, in a more affordable price range for some consumers.
Lin said he does not expect the company to make dramatic changes to its high-speed consumer service, known as Vcast, which delivers content such as Web surfing and video downloads to phones for about $15 a month.
Phone companies around the world have been beefing up their networks to deliver services such as high-speed Internet links and video and music downloads to phones in a bet that demand for such offerings will help offset falling phone call prices.
Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone, has led the pack in the United States by starting to sell high-speed services based on EV-DO technology to laptop computer users in some markets in 2003.
It has since expanded the service to cover about one third of the U.S. population and expects to cover roughly half the U.S. population or 150 million people by year end.
Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service which became Sprint Nextel this month after its purchase of Nextel Communications, said in July it was starting to offer laptop services based on the same technology and with similar charges of $80 a month.
Sprint Nextel expects to have coverage for 143 million people by the fourth quarter and 150 million people -- or roughly half the U.S. population -- in early 2006.
The EV-DO technology which both Sprint Nextel and Verizon wireless are using was developed by wireless technology firm Qualcomm Inc., which sells chips and licenses based on the technology.
The country's biggest operator, Cingular Wireless, a venture of SBC Communications and BellSouth Corp., has said it expects to have high-speed services based on a different technology later this year.