Want a Droid for work e-mail? It'll cost you extra

Accessing Exchange e-mail over the new 'iPhone killer' costs an extra $15 per month

The industry is abuzz over the Motorola Droid, the first Google Android 2.0-based smartphone, to be released on Friday, Nov. 6, in the United States, with network access provided by Verizon Wireless. But users who buy the device and expect to use its built-in Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support to get corporate e-mail from Exchange servers will have to pay an additional $15 per month for the privilege, Verizon confirms.

[ Learn which smartphones support your business's Exchange security and access policies. | Get the InfoWorld editors' 21-page PDF guide to next-gen smartphones. ]

Verizon offers three data plans for Droid customers: $30 month on top of your voice plan's rate for non-Exchange usage, $45 per month on top of your voice plan's rate for Exchange usage, and $50 per month total cost for a data-only plan (whether or not you use it to access Exchange). Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney notes that the requirement to get the $45 "smartphone plan" for corporate e-mail usage applies to any smartphone, such as the BlackBerry -- not just to the Droid. "The Droid is primarily a consumer phone," Raney adds.

Update: When I went to a Verizon Store to buy a Droid and asked if the device was compatible with Exchange security policies, I was told by the sales rep that I had to pay $45 per month -- $15 extra -- due to the use of corporate e-mail access, even though it was for a personal account. (So I paid.) And when I called tech support later about difficulties connecting to Exchange (the Droid doesn't support Exchange ActiveSync policies, it turns out), the first thing the support rep did was make sure I was paying the extra corporate e-mail monthly charge before she would help me (not that she knew anything about Exchange). I know several people who've been able to access Exchange on the $30 monthly plan (using servers that have no ActiveSync policies), so if you're silent to Verizon about your intended use of what it calls "corporate e-mail" and don't call for support on it, you can probably avoid the extra monthly charge.

That pricing contrasts with AT&T's $30 monthly data plan (on top of your voice plan's rates) for the Apple iPhone and Research in Motion BlackBerry, the two most popular business-class smartphones; AT&T offers a $35-per-month data-only plan for the BlackBerry, but has no such plan for the iPhone. However, AT&T's business data plans charge $45 per month if the smartphones are used to access corporate e-mail or servers.

Sprint doesn't break out its data plans' costs for the Palm Pre and BlackBerry, but its smartphone plans cost the same as AT&T's, with a $30-per-month difference in charges for its voice-only phones' plans and its data-capable phones' plans. Like Verizon, Sprint offers a data-only plan for these devices for $50 per month.

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