All mobile carriers have some type of unlimited data plan, but as we all know “unlimited” is only used in the loosest sense of the term. All these services have a data cap, and the usual practice is to throttle down network speeds once a customer reaches that limit. Verizon’s Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data is no different. Customers have a 22GB per month allowance. If they exceed this limit, they are “subject to deprioritization.” Meaning if the tower is busy, you will be the first to get slowed down.
Ironically, some customers that are exceeding the cap are going to be kicked off their unlimited data subscription. Recently customers began complaining that they had received notification from Verizon “to either port their plans to another carrier or face outright termination.”
The problem is only occurring with customers who are carried under the LTE in Rural America (LRA) program. Verizon initiated LRA to bring high-speed LTE service to those in rural areas. To do this Verizon created partnerships with smaller local carriers. The company allows the regional carriers access to its core network and a “700 MHz Upper C Spectrum Lease Through 2029.” In return, the rural companies allow free use of their towers, “equipment shelters,” and roaming agreements among other things.
There are 21 regions currently participating in the LRA program. One of these regional carriers is Appalachian Wireless, and customers within Appalachian’s coverage zone, and possibly other areas, are the ones affected by the ban. According to posters on Howard Forums, Verizon is telling customers that it will pay off their phones if they “port out” to the local carrier. If the client refuses to switch, then they will lose service after July 30. Kelly Crummey, Verizon Director of Corporate Communications, confirmed in a statement to BGR that the company was indeed taking such actions. “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."
This is not the first time Verizon has dropped the ban hammer on customers exceeding "unlimited" data usage caps. Around this time last year, the company gave notice to some users who were still on its old discontinued unlimited data plans that they needed to switch to limited plans or face termination. According to Verizon, these customers were consuming an “extraordinary amount of data.” Those clients using more than 100GB per month were subject to that purge.
Verizon decision may have something to do with the roaming arrangements that the national carrier has set up with the smaller companies. Some users speculate that Verizon has no way to throttle the customers on the rural towers, so those are the ones being targeted. The regional carriers might also be complaining that their infrastructure cannot handle the strain of excessive usage, but all of this is just wild conjecture.
According to Verizon’s own statement, the LRA program was designed to “bring the broad benefits of 4G LTE service, quickly and efficiently, to customers in rural markets. It’s all about serving the customer – consumer and business – no matter where they live, work or play.” In this case, it seems it does matter “where they live, work, and play,” but is there a balance point where it is reasonable to say caps make sense?