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Verizon cuts early cellphone upgrade to 30 days from six months

Jan. 20, 2014 at 12:44 PM ET

Verizon’s early-upgrade program will now allow phone trade-ins after just 30 days – but customers are still on the hook for 50 percent of the phone’s full retail price.

As first reported by tech blog CNET, Verizon quietly made the changes to its “Edge” early-upgrade program over the weekend. Verizon unveiled Edge last summer, and at that time, the company allowed trade-ins after six months.

Verizon’s slashing of that timeline is the latest move in the fight between carriers over device upgrades, termination fees and more. Last year T-Mobile upended the traditional model by eliminating contracts in what it calls an “uncarrier” approach: customers buy their own phones and pay lower monthly bills. Shortly afterward T-Mobile unrolled Jump, which lets customers upgrade their phones twice every 12 months for the same price as a new customer. Then AT&T unveiled a program called Next that works similarly to Verizon’s Edge.

Verizon spokesman David Samberg confirmed the new 30-day minimum for an Edge upgrade is permanent, not a temporary promotion.

Meanwhile, the rest of Verizon’s Edge program still works the same way: The full retail price of the phone is split into 24 monthly payments, and those payments are added to customers’ monthly bills.

Although the upgrade time has been cut to 30 days, customers will still have to pay at least 50 percent of the phone’s cost in order to trade in their existing device — which must be in “good working condition.”

Verizon customers also must still meet a few requirements to be eligible for Edge. Existing customers need six months of good payment history, and they must be eligible for an upgrade. New customers will go through a credit check.

Plus, customers need to have some kind of service agreement with Verizon Wireless in order to sign up for Edge; prepaid accounts are not eligible.

Programs like Edge are part of carriers’ continued efforts to retain customers, as their competitors unveil new incentives to switch. Earlier this month, AT&T offered T-Mobile customers $450 in incentives to switch carriers. T-Mobile replied a few days later with an offer to reimburse customers for up to $650 in termination fees.

Julianne Pepitone is a senior technology writer for NBC News Digital. Previously she was a staff writer at CNNMoney, where she covered large tech companies including Apple and Google, as well as the intersection of tech and media. Follow Julianne on Twitter at @julpepitone or email her at julianne.pepitone@nbcuni.com.

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