Verizon has made a lot of noise about its new Unlimited plans. They’re not actually unlimited in the true sense of the word, but rather they only slow you down once you use your 22GB data allowance, rather than cut you off.
But some customers in rural areas claim that Verizon has cut them off the Unlimited plan altogether, thanks to excessive data usage. A number of customers on Howard Forums have shared stories about Verizon shutting down Unlimited accounts after data usage got too high, which is a little ironic.
The problem comes down to Verizon’s LTEiRA program, under which 21 small regional carriers have partnered with Verizon to get coverage to rural areas. Under the terms of the program, Verizon provides technology and spectrum rights to tiny regional carriers. In return, Verizon customers can use those regional networks for free.
From a customer perspective, there’s no visible difference between being on Verizon’s network or a LTEiRA partner. You’ll still get an LTE signal in most areas, and in theory, you’re meant to be able to use your regular Verizon plan with no limitations on any partner carrier.
But according to a number of posters on Howard Forums, Verizon is contacting anyone who’s using a large amount of data on an LTEiRA partner, and telling them to either port their plans to another carrier or face outright termination. “They’re calling those with billing addresses outside of their coverage areas on unlimited and agreeing to pay off their phones if they will port out, otherwise they will discontinue the service,” one poster said.
In a statement to BGR, Verizon confirmed that it’s terminating the contracts of some customers who are not in native Verizon service areas. “We are notifying a small group of customers who are out of contract and primarily use mobile data on other networks that we will no longer provide service to them after July 30, 2017,” Verizon Director of Corporate Communications Kelly Crummey said.
While Verizon may technically be within its rights to terminate customers’ accounts, it doesn’t look good for a company that’s been stressing just how unlimited its plans are. This is likely a decision motivated by economics — it doesn’t make sense for Verizon to pay partners for the roaming habits of a handful of customers — but it’s not great for the company’s reputation. Verizon positions itself as the most expensive but best carrier, the one where you should be able to use your plan anywhere without worrying. This sends the opposite message.