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Verizon Changes Course On Dropping Rural Customers

After extensive backlash to a plan to drop customers who operate primarily outside Verizon’s service area, the company has backpedaled and now claims it will no longer drop these customers.
Verizon sent a letter to around 900 individuals in Montana stating that, because their primary data usage was outside of Verizon’s service area, they would be dropped in mid-October. U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana demanded answers from Verizon. The senator penned a letter to Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam pushing for the company to reverse its decision to eliminate the contracts and remove these rural customers from its network.
Tester was concerned with maintaining communications during emergency situations, safety concerns and individuals capabilities of running a business without reliable wireless communications. Senator Steve Daines, of Montana, also condemned Verizon’s actions stating that it was an example of the “rural-urban divide” and stating that “it’s another example of choosing a bottom-line over a commitment to Montanans.”
After nearly a week of uncertainty, the company responded to Tester’s demands and announced that they would continue to serve these customers instead of eliminating their contracts. In a press release Tester said “I am pleased with Verizon’s decision to uphold its commitment to our state, if any Verizon customers have continued concerns, please contact my office. I will continue to defend Montanans from harmful actions that undermine our quality of life.”
Tester stated that he received assurances from Verizon that no Montanans will be involuntarily removed from their contract. They will instead have the option of choosing between and alternative Verizon plan, or finding a different carrier.
What this means is that rather than being dropped from Verizon’s network completely, customers will instead be removed from their unlimited data plans and forced to choose a lesser plan. According to Verizon, customers will have until Dec. 1 to switch to either a 2 GB, 4 GB or 8GB plan. The alternative is to find a new carrier.
For customers in areas where Verizon was the only service plan they could receive, this is a good thing as they can continue to have wireless access. For others, the attempt to disconnect them was too far a move by Verizon. Many claim that they will change wireless carriers regardless because they no longer trust Verizon.
In an article by The Billings Gazette, Verizon spokeswoman Megan Dorsch confirmed that the initial reason behind the drop was that the costs of data roaming exceeded the amount those customers paid for their monthly plans, although some customers who received shutoff letter claimed that their data usage was in the single digits.
The entire plan to shutoff the nearly 9,000 customers went back on a previous Verizon promise laid out in their LTE for Rural America program. That program laid out a partnership with 21 carriers in the rural United States to allow Verizon customers to roam off their towers.