Verizon Subscribers Ask, Can You Hear Us?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - T-Mobile's new, lower priced pricing plans have gotten the attention of subscribers from other carriers, particularly, Verizon ( VZ).

As of this morning, more than 94,000 people had signed a two-week old online petition asking Verizon to drop its requirement that customers sign two-year contracts in favor of T-Mobile's new pricing schemes.

T-Mobile's newly established "no-contract" plans offer lower monthly service fees because you're asked to purchase your phone in a separate transaction. That way once you pay-off your phone, your monthly bill is reduced. T-Mobile is then able to offer customers unlimited talk/text/Internet plans at reasonable prices. You can add unlimited data while multiple handset family-plans offer even greater bargains.

The petition is the brainchild of Mike Beauchamp from Wichita, Kansas. He quotes Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam as recently saying his company can do away with contracts if "consumers speak loud enough about it." The petition was started to give Verizon customers a chance to tell the company how they feel.

Beauchamp makes his points quite well:

"Let's face it; phones aren't really phones anymore. They're data devices for accessing the Internet and everything connected to it, that happen to also make calls. Carriers (including Verizon) have already given up trying to charge for "minutes" -- a shift towards that verifies this trend. Instead, they've created a business model where most of their revenue comes from data...

So why would anyone want to be tied into a contract for two years? The major handset manufacturers all release updated, newer, faster, more powerful devices much more frequently...''

Last week, Verizon said they will increase the amount of time customers in which can upgrade to newer phones without penalties from 20 months to 24 months - the same as their standard service contracts.

A number of Verizon customers would like the same deal. So far it's only a small portion of Verizon's reportedly 99 million retail subscribers have actually signed the petition. But, even without a massive amount of publicity, more than 30,000 people, from all across the country, have affixed their names to it in one day.

Beauchamp's point is one that deserves wide publicity: "Tell Verizon to end carrier contracts and create an affordable way for consumers to purchase their devices," he says.

The petition needs a total of 150,000 signatures to be sent onto Verizon officials.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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