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$99 plan attracting new subscribers for Verizon

/ Source: The Associated Press

The $99.99 plan that gives Verizon Wireless subscribers unlimited calls is boosting gross subscriber additions, Verizon chief financial officer Doreen Toben said Monday.

Verizon Wireless introduced the plan three weeks ago. AT&T Inc. matched it within hours, quickly followed by T-Mobile USA, which threw in unlimited messaging. Sprint Nextel Corp. later announced a $89.99 unlimited calling plan.

The price cuts scared investors and sent stocks down across the wireless industry, but Toben said the price plan should boost Verizon's earnings.

"It doesn't take that many more of the $79.99 folks to go up to $99.99 to offset" the price cut for customers who had been paying more than $100 a month, Toben said at the Bear Stearns Media Conference in Palm Beach, Fla. The presentation was Webcast.

The increase in gross subscriber additions also seems indicate that Verizon Wireless is attracting subscribers from other carriers with the offer, even though it has been matched or exceeded by competitors. Toben did not say what effect the offers had on the net subscriber count, after cancellations.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. of New York and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.

Verizon shares slipped 71 cents, or 2 percent, to $34.37 Monday after trading as high as $35.23 earlier.