Earlier this week, we reported that Verizon Wireless had taken the rather unfortunate step of informing 8,500 of its rural subscribers that they would no longer be eligible to receive wireless service. According to Verizon, these customers were using an excessive amount of data.
These customers reside in underserved areas of the country that are part of Verizon's LTE in Rural America (LRA) program, which allows rural carriers to tap into resources and access technical support provided by the nation's largest wireless carrier. However, Verizon's costs associated with helping to provide service to these customers has often exceeded the price that they pay. Needless to say, Verizon doesn't want to be in a position where it's actually losing money on customers -- even if it's "only" 8,500 accounts.
As it turns out, Verizon didn't quite think things through clearly before it made its strictly financially-motivated decision, with the company writing in an email to HotHardware, "We have become aware of a very small number of affected customers who may be using their personal phones in their roles as first responders and another small group who may not have another option for wireless service."
Faced with backlash from customers and the media, Verizon is changing its tune slightly on how hit will handle these rural customers. Verizon now states that instead of cutting customers off on October 17th, it has extended the deadline until December 1st. That will give customers additional time to find a new wireless carrier in their area.
If there is not another wireless provider capable of servicing your area, Verizon will allow you to switch to its S (2 GB), M (4 GB), L (8 GB) or 5GB single-line plans. Customers, understandably, will not be able to opt for one of Verizon's unlimited data plans.
Verizon tried to sound conciliatory in the email, writing:
Supporting these roaming customers can often be economically challenging, especially supporting those on plans with unlimited data or other high data plans. However, we are continuing to look for ways to support existing roaming customers with LTE service.
We’re making these changes so that your options with Verizon are clear, and that we’re there for those who need us. We have a long history of serving rural markets and care about you, your friends and families in these communities.
It's nice to know that Verizon has had a change of heart with regards to rural customers, and just goes to show that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.