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Why Verizon Caved and Is Finally Offering an Unlimited Data Plan Again

After holding out against unlimited plans, Verizon (VZ) has finally relented.

Verizon joins Sprint (S) , T-Mobile USA (TMUS) and AT&T (T) on Monday in offering unlimited data packages, a strategy that the carrier has consistently resisted. The shift recognizes the growing demand for data in today's market, and could also cause Verizon to acquire more operations that can spur its growth.

"While Verizon has rationalized this volte-face as a function of its superior network quality, it is clearly a response to a more competitive environment," Nomura analyst Jeffrey Kvaal wrote.

Sprint lowered the price of its unlimited data plan to $50 per month on Friday, while AT&T launched its unlimited plan $100 per month in January. T-Mobile shook up the industry when it launched its $70 per month unlimited plan last August.

Under its new plan, Verizon charges $80 per month for one line or $180 for four lines (or $45 per line), not including taxes and fees. The package includes...