What you need to know about Verizon’s secretive new data plan

Verizon quietly unveiled a cheaper unlimited data service Friday called Verizon Visible. The new service offers unlimited data, minutes, and messaging for as low as $40 per month, which may sound too good to be true—but it does have some important differences from traditional data plans.

Based on the website, Verizon seems to be targeting younger, hipper, perhaps less cash-flush smartphone users for this service. However, it could be attractive to a variety of people. You can learn more about what Verizon Visible entails below.

What is Verizon Visible?

Verizon Visible, which has actually been around since the beginning of this year, is a lot like a mobile virtual network operator (like Google’s Project Fi). A Verizon representative told Gizmodo that Visible is “a new kind of network provider, combining Verizon’s 4G LTE cell tower coverage with cloud-based infrastructure and systems.” It has no annual contract and no detailed bill you need to pore over. You get unlimited data, calls, and text messages.

The service costs only $40 a month, but that low price tag also comes with lower mobile network speeds: Download speeds top out at 5 Mbps, and video streams at only 480p—less than HD quality. Verizon’s website also caveats that network speeds could slow further if the carrier is experiencing a large amount of congestion. With a traditional Verizon data plan, you get data speeds between 5 and 12 Mbps, with peak speeds up to 50 Mbps.

How do you get it?

Verizon Visible is invitation-only right now. If you don’t have a code from a current subscriber, you’ll need to head to its website to sign up for the service here. It’s also only available on iOS.

How it works

If you do have a code and sign up, you’ll be sent a SIM card in the mail the following day. You’ll also need to download the Visible app from the App Store before your service begins and fill out some personal information in the app. From there, you should be able to use your phone as normal. You can pay your monthly bill with PayPal, Venmo, or a credit card.

As Gizmodo notes, Visible’s privacy policy leaves a lot to be desired. Verizon says it will “collect information when you visit our websites, use our apps, contact us, and when you subscribe to and use our wireless service.” Visible also maintains the right to sell your data to third parties or use it to market to you, although you can opt out of some of this.

However, to appeal to those looking for a carrier who cares about social good, Verizon Visible says it is “working with an organization focused on finding nonprofit startups nationwide who are making a difference in their community through mobile technology” and will provide those startups with “the financial, networking, and phone connections they need to expand their reach.”

For more details on exactly what Verizon Visible offers, you can head to the FAQ page on its website.

H/T Tom’s Guide

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington

Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.