Verizon opts to keep unlimited data plan in its first LTE phone

The HTC ThunderBolt Thursday with an unlimited data plan for $29.99 a month, keeping the first LTE from Verizon Wireless in line with unlimited data plans for Verizon's current 3G smartphones, including the 4.

Many analysts had expected otherwise and said the carrier would use ThunderBolt as a way to end unlimited data plans, although that step could still occur in a future Verizon announcement.

Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney on Tuesday repeated earlier Verizon statements that Verizon "will move to some type of usage-based pricing this year...The unlimited smartphone plan in the [ThunderBolt] announcement this morning is all we are announcing right now."

In an interview, Raney said usage-based pricing doesn't automatically mean there will be an upper-end cap with overage charges, as its competitor AT&T has implemented. AT&T has two smartphone data plans: 200 MB for $15 a month (and $15 more for 200 MB in overages), and 2GB for $25 a month (with $10 more for an additional 1GB for overage).

Asked if usage-based pricing means there will be an upper cap, Raney said, "Not necessarily, but I have no idea of the pricing model."

Verizon CFO Fran Shammo told investors on March 1 that would be coming from Verizon probably by mid-summer, adding: "We will be launching the HTC ThunderBolt very shortly here and then that will give you a flavor of our tiered-pricing structure going forward."