Blackberries do need data to access email and internet. The reason Verizon requires a data package is because they have "learned" that when people are allowed to not have data packages they use data anyway and then complain about the charges. I recommend that if you do not want to pay data charges, get a dumb phone that cannot access the internet. It is your option if you have a cell phone or not, right?
If you are trying to cut costs, then another option for you would be to get a used phone, a friend's phone that they no longer use, that doesn't require data, and activate that on your line, and that would allow you to drop the data plan.
Keeping the Blackberry will mean a data plan, no way around it.
I don't have a real problem with the data fee on smartphones, but charging a minimum $9.99 for data on a regular "multimedia" phone is crap.
My wife is currently using an env2 and eligible for upgrade. She wants the env3 but will have to pay $20 bucks a month more because of the data fee and she uses VZ Navigator (which is free under current contract and her phone). Because of this VZW just lost a sale.
And before anyone says she can get a regular phone yes she can but have you checked out the selection of those? They are junk. Guess its that way to force people to move up and spend more for something they don't want or need.
Nice job marketing really making people happy with that move.