Verizon tries its hand at pay-as-you-go data

In a further push to promote its extensive 3G network, Verizon has begun offering data packages that customers can pay just one month at a time.

There’s no need to sign a contract. Anyone can sign up for an entire month of service, with the fee dependent on what kind of device will be attached.

Smartphones can get an unlimited month of 3G access for $30. Other phones can get 25 MB for $10 a month, with 20 cents tacked on for each additional megabyte during the month.

“Our prepaid customers will now have the freedom to enjoy all of the capabilities that these phones have to offer, while controlling costs and without being tied to a contract,” said Verizon marketing director Jim Sullivan.

The hard part is actually getting the phone. Most smartphones cost $500 – $600 to buy outright, but carriers like Verizon sweeten the pot by extremely cutting those prices to get customers to sign up for multi-year service contracts. With second-hand markets like Craigslist growing in popularity, though, there has been an uptick in the number of customers seeking to activate a phone they already have that has no connected service.

Virgin Mobile, which was acquired by Sprint, also offers pay-as-you-go data plans for a similar pricing structure but also more options for customers who only want a small allotment of data for a lower price.

Verizon offers the service for all of its top-name phones, including all the Droids and a whole bunch of Blackberries. It will be available beginning September 28.