UPDATE: January 10th, 2016 - Verizon's Statement on Cancelations
Some large mainstream sites have started to cover the story about Verizon moving to cancel many unlimited data plans, and a few of them were able to get an official statement from Verizon.
Here is what Verizon spokesperson Kelly Crummey told Ars Technica:
"Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a small group of customers on unlimited plans who use more than 200GB a month that they must move to a Verizon Plan by February 16, 2017."
Verizon also told Ars that last summer's cancelations targeted customers using over 500GB - at last specifically confirming this long rumored amount.
200GB Limit, Or Average?
Despite Verizon's statement - we have seen plenty of credible reports from people who have documented average usage well under 200GB/mo who have received the dreaded letter (see below) notifying them that their account is going to be unilaterally cancelled unless they move to a limited data plan.
Our guess is that the "200GB" may be the average usage of all the lines being canceled, which would mean that a substantial number are likely using well under that amount.
But even Verizon's spokespeople seem to be confused - continually referring to 200GB as a limit in press statements today.
But for those out of contract - the actual "safe" usage number seems likely to be vastly less.
Are Contracts Safe?
So far it seems that only lines that are out of contract have gotten the letter.
We've so far only seen one person who claims to be under contract report getting the letter - but he also claims to use over 1TB a month, and overall the report didn't seem completely credible and may just be fear mongering.
There have been some others who confused "being under contract" with being on a device payment plan. Verizon's device payment plan program is just an installment loan, and is very different from the traditional 1-year or 2-year cell phone contract.
Some people with a mix of in and out of contract unlimited data lines have reported getting the letter, though some speculate that the letter only applies to their out of contract lines.
We can only hope that all of this means that in-contract unlimited data lines remain safe from cancelation, at least for now.
We will keep updating this post as we learn more. We will also be discussing the latest and taking questions during our next members-only webinar on Wednesday night at 8pm EST.
Original January 6th article below...
Last summer Verizon caused a panic by sending out letters to approximately 1,200 out-of-contract grandfathered unlimited data plan customers that Verizon considered to be "extraordinary" heavy data users, unilaterally canceling their accounts unless they switched to a current metered data plan.
Earlier this week, we started tracking leaks on Reddit that appeared from claimed Verizon employees warning that another round of 8,200 letters was coming.
Yesterday - those letters did indeed go out, and they are starting to show up in mailboxes. This time Verizon is being a LOT more aggressive.
Last summer it was reported that Verizon was targeting a group of users who had a median usage of 510GB/mo.
This time, according to some insider leaks from Verizon sources, 8,200 letters are being sent out - and the average usage of those targeted is just 200GB.
This is what was reportedly posted on Verizon's internal support system for customer service agents:
"High-usage Unlimited Plan customers get notices to migrate: On 1/5, 8,200 unlimited plan customers averaging more than 200 GB of usage per month will begin receiving notices that they must migrate to a new Verizon Plan by 2/16/17 or their lines will be disconnected."
But 200GB is the average - we've heard from one of our premium members who received the letter today who had an average usage on his UDP line over the past six months of just 94GB/mo - and even his heaviest month was under 200GB.
We've also heard of rental UDP line providers who are being impacted as well - so even rental lines may not be safe, depending on how they have their lines set up and whether or not they are protected by contracts or by being part of a business account.
Stay Under Contract!
Last summer's terminations only applied to customers with OUT OF CONTRACT accounts. And thus far, all reports of letters being received seem to be out of contract customers as well. We are monitoring this closely for confirmed reports of any IN contract customers receiving letters.
We consider keeping a Verizon Unlimited Data Plan line under contract to be the safest bet.
If your line is not under contract - get it back under contract ASAP.
Having a contract is not a guarantee Verizon won't eventually shut these lines down too. But it's best bet we all have right now.
Even if you have gotten the letter, there is a chance that getting your line under contract may still save it. That certainly worked for some last summer, so it is worth trying.
No More 2-Year Contracts
However, making things even more complicated is that it was also leaked that Verizon would be silently doing away with new or extended 2-year contracts on smartphones as of yesterday. This is now confirmed, and the 2-year subsidized phone options with contracts have disappeared from Verizon's website.
This means many of the alternate ways to extend a Verizon Unlimited Data Plan's contract have suddenly gone away - though it is still possible to extend or enter into a one year contract if you jump through the right hoops.
Watching This Story
Our Premium MIA members actually received an email alert on Tuesday, right after we were alerted to the leaks, giving them a couple extra days notice. And many were able to get back under contract, or extend their contracts, before the letters were even mailed.
On January 11, we also hosted a special member webinar, updating our guidance to them on these plans (members, you can find the archived video embedded below if you are logged in.)
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We'll be updating this public story here as we learn more too - so stay tuned.