Verizon has started sending out notifications to 8,500 rural users, informing them that their plans will be deactivated sometime in October.
The Big Red says roaming charges have made certain accounts unprofitable for the carrier. In all, the 8,500 customers have 19,000 lines and live in 13 states. They received disconnections notices this month and will officially be severed from the network Oct. 17.
Why Verizon Is Disconnecting Thousands Of Customers
"These customers live outside of areas where Verizon operates our own network," said Verizon, as Ars Technica reports.
The carrier says they sent the notices in hopes that the customers can find another wireless provider. The letter included no option for customers to continue their plans. It seems Verizon isn't offering any sort of compromise either. It's letting them go completely.
The issue roots from the carrier's LTEiRA program, wherein the company partners with 21 regional carriers to provide mobile network access in rural American regions. But when these users spend roaming data, Verizon is the one responsible for paying the carriers' fees, as BGR reports.
Verizon says many of the affected customers have extremely high data usage and that the roaming costs exceed their monthly network fee. Hence, for every customer who does this, Verizon loses profitability.
Roaming Data Usage
Verizon says some users are even using up to a terabyte of data per month, but one family reported they'd been using less than 50 GB across four lines under an unlimited data plan in the same period.
"Now we are left with very few choices, none of them with good service," one family member said.
Verizon hasn't confirmed if 50 GB is the cutoff point to determine whether a customer needs to be disconnected. It only said that there are "many current customers" who aren't racking up roaming charges and are not impacted.
Verizon's move will significantly affect the carriers it has partnered with, which claim the Big Red encouraged them to expand their service by building new infrastructure. What happens to these carriers or whether Verizon will eventually decide on a compromise remains a question.
Customers who don't act by the disconnection date will be barred from transferring their phone number to a different network provider. Judging by how the letter reads, Verizon really wants to jettison these customers entirely without giving them alternative options.
Affected by this change? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!