Photo by Justin Sullivan, Getty Images.
Verizon Wireless, the country's largest cell phone company, says it will start charging $30 every time a subscriber wants to upgrade to a new phone.
Other phone companies have introduced similar fees. Competitor AT&T Inc. raised its fee from $18 to $36 this year.
Verizon says it will start charging the fee on April 22, and it will help fund customer support and online educational tools.
Verizon is introducing the fee as cell phone companies are seeing their profits cut by the cost of subsidizing smartphones, especially iPhones. Smartphones generally cost hundreds of dollars more than they sell for in stores. Wireless carriers count on making the money back through service fees over time, but those fees aren't growing as fast as smartphone sales.
By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer