Legacy Verizon gUDP Plan Guide
Two of the sweetest words to a nomad's ear: "Unlimited Data".
Especially data that you can share with laptops, tablets, gamng systems and for streaming video to replace a 'home internet connection.'
However, all of the unlimited data plans offered directly from the carriers today have gotchas - subject to network management (slowing down while on congested towers), limits on mobile hotspot use and/or video streaming optimization.
Verizon's postpaid "unlimited" data plans have limits of 15-20GB of high speed mobile hotspot/tethering and can be slowed down while on congested towers. And their prepaid Jetpack unlimited plan is always subject to network management.
But Verizon's older grandfathered legacy 'original' unlimited data plans had no such limits - no slow downs, no network management and no restrictions on mobile hotspot use.
gUDP (or grandfathered Unlimited Data Plan) has become the shorthand name to refer to this particular plan.
These plans retired in 2011, and obtaining them as a new customer is a bit on the difficult & risky side. But if you have one of these sweet plans, they are worth their weight in gold.
It is unbelievably freeing to be able to use the internet without constantly worrying about monthly data caps, overage charges, or punitive speed throttling. But these plans do come with risks and you do need to understand the trade offs and stay on top of protecting them.
Can You Still Get a gUDP?
Not Easily - At least Not Owned
In 2011 Verizon retired their previous unlimited data plans and they have continued to (mostly) grandfather these plans in.
Verizon officially changed their policy in 2014 to no longer allow transferring legit plans to new owners. For a long while however, the assumption of liability process still worked - but we've not heard of success in quite a while. And there have been several rounds of terminations we've tracked over the years of these plans for high usage and violation of terms of service.
There are some data brokers still left who know how to work Verizon's system to create new lines, but this practice is high risk and not recommended by us.
Some corporate accounts still have the ability to keep and create new unlimited data lines for their employees - and some rent those lines out (usually against Verizon's terms of service.) Which remains an option.
We still occasionally hear reports of 3rd party gUDP rental vendors being shut down with customers losing their rental/lease plans. As of May 2019, Verizon has also retired their prepaid Unlimited Jetpack plan, which is now also in grandfathered status.
We get a lot of questions of how these legacy plans will be treated in a 5G world. At present time, Verizon has only extended 5G access to current plans, not legacy plans. It is unknown if the carrier will allow swapping of gUDP and pUDP SIMs into 5G devices once they are available. Verizon is under no obligation to allow grandfathered plans to have 5G access, as their terms of open access will not apply to the spectrum they are using for 5G, like it did under their LTE rollout.
Fighting Back Against gUDP Terminations
On July 26th 2019 we begun to receive reports from a number of gUDP account holders that Verizon had emailed them a notice that it is terminating their accounts for one of three reasons:
- Use of a smartphone gUDP plan in a data-only device (like a hotspot or a router).
- Ineligible grandfathered data plan.
- Inappropriately acquired grandfathered plan.
These letters as of November 2019 have not been going out to all gUDP account holders and seem to be an isolated batch.
Verizon is on solid footing going after gUDP lines that were created and/or transferred via fraudulent means (generally involving a data broker from about 2016 on).
But if you get a similar letter and have a legitimate grandfathered UDP line you've owned since 2014, or were transferred one by the official AOL process - you may actually be able fight to back against Verizon's termination - and you can even escalate the issue all the way up to the FCC.
First - File an official "Notice of Dispute" (NOD)
File this form with Verizon - here is a link to the form and submittal instructions.
Be sure to include the following:
- A copy of the termination letter you received as an attachment to the NOD form.
- Request for Verizon to provide clarification for its justification for the termination. Specifically ask Verizon to indicate which of the three reasons they are using to justify terminating your account.
- Ask for mediation, not arbitration.
- Request that Verizon "cease and desist from shutting down your account" until the issue is resolved.
- If you have been using your gUDP SIM in a hotspot or router (reason #1) - on the NOD form cite Verizon's many past on-the-record clarifications and statements saying that the gUDP can actually be used in data-only devices.
Verizon will be required to respond in writing within 30 days, and should (hopefully) hold off on deactivating your account while you wait.
If Verizon can prove that your gUDP is fraudulently obtained, you will likely be out of luck.
But if the issue is how you are using the gUDP (item #1) - you may have a very strong case, and Verizon might back down at this point.
If they don't, proceed to filing a complaint with the FCC.
SIM Swapping Items to Cite
Here is a very old link to reference specifically, with a direct quote from Verizon authorizing use of gUDP SIMs in devices other than smartphones:
Quote the Verizon representative's statement:
"The SIM holds the detail of your data plan. If you move it to another device, you will be charged for the service you use. If you have an unlimited SIM and it fits another device, you can use it and you will pay for the service plan associated with the SIM."
Also be sure on the NOD form to cite "the FCC case Nguyen v. Verizon (Case 16-242)" -
which has not yet been ruled on by the FCC. Note that:
"Verizon may not adversely act on this issue without a determination from a vote by the Commission itself".
UPDATE (8/7/2019): After years without issuing an opinion, the FCC has now formally ruled against the Nguyuen case. But for the most part the ruling isn't against the various issues raised, but with a lack of evidence presented.
This is from the ruling the FCC shared:
"We deny Nguyen's Complaint for failure to satisfy its burden of proving by competent evidence that Verizon violated the Act or the Commission's rules or orders. Rather than support its claims with sworn affidavits from witnesses with personal knowledge of the facts, the Nguyen Complaint rests almost entirely on unverified news reports and blog posts."
It is unclear now whether citing the Nguyen case will be at all useful in filing new FCC complaints, though it is expected that Nguyen may reopen and re-file his case with new sworn statements and evidence, meaning this might not actually be over yet.
Filing a FCC Complaint
If Verizon does not back down in Mediation, the next step is to file a consumer complaint with the FCC here.
Be sure to cite all the same information in the FCC complain.
Filing an informal complaint with the FCC is free and relatively easy, and Verizon is again required to respond within 30 days.
If Verizon still does not back down - the next step is an official formal FCC complaint.
The FCC describes the formal complaint process like this:
If you are not satisfied with the response to your informal complaint, you can file a "formal" complaint. Your formal complaint must be filed within six months of the date of the response to your informal complaint. The current fee for filing a formal complaint is $235.00, but it is subject to change.
This is a huge deal for Verizon - the Nguyen case started as a formal complaint related to network neutrality, gUDP lines, and several other issues - and had actually dragged on for years.
(You can read more about Alex Nguyen's battle with Verizon in this Verge profile from 2017...)
If you REALLY want to keep your gUDP, locking Verizon up in the FCC's formal complaint process may be the ultimate way to do it.
Ways to Get a gUDP
There are three primary ways for consumers to gain access to one of these grandfathered lines, and a third option to obtain an alternative unlimited Verizon plan:
Option 1: Rental/Lease ($125 - 249/month)
Those who have a corporate agreement with Verizion with multiple unlimited lines offer access to their lines on a month-to-month basis (often against the terms of their service with the carrier). And some vendors acquired several lines of either consumer accounts or prepaid accounts that they rent out.
You pay the vendor for use of the line, and do not have a direct relationship with Verizon.
The upfront costs are minimal (ranging from $5-250 depending on if a Jetpack/MiFi is included), but the monthly costs can be 3-5 times higher than owning your own line.
Rental Vendor Warning: Starting in 2016, many rental vendors became under audit by Verizon for this practice. Several have been shut down for contract breach, and others given warnings to reduce usage. The shut downs have continued as Verizon hunts down rental vendors and turns off lines, and we see new waves constantly.
If you choose this route, be sure to have a back-up plan
should when your plan is terminated with little warning. Vendors still in business are constantly shifting lines around as their various accounts get caught.
- Upfront costs are set by the vendor, and usually include the purchase of a SIM card and possibly a mobile hotspot device (Jetpack/MiFi). If they are including a MiFi device, make sure it is a current model so it supports all of Verizon's coverage. Check our Review Center for the current best options.
- Expect to pay $5 - 250 upfront depending on what is included.
- Monthly costs are also set by the vendor, and tend to range from $125 - 249/month (based on current market demand). This is a month-to-month agreement, which gives you flexibility to discontinue service as needed. But remember, no-contract goes two ways - we have heard several reports of unexpected price increases by vendors.
- Data Caps: After the summer 2016 crack down, some rental vendors now have data caps.
- Prepaid vs Postpaid: Some plans may be corporate postpaid plans with out caps or network management, but some cheaper lines may actually be retired prepaid unlimited data plans that are always subject to network management.
- Have a Back-Up Option: We highly recommend having an alternate way online if you rely on one of these plans. Remember, these plans can get shut down with little notice by Verizon (for contract breach, your vendor not paying their bill, etc). We have heard feedback that some whose vendor got shut down also had their MiFi/Jetpacks blacklisted by Verizon (thus they could not be re-activated on other lines of service).
We now keep our rental/vendor list on our Verizon Unlimited Reseller Gear Center Entry.
Option 2: Owning Your Own Line or AOL ($15-95/month)
There are actually two methods within this method.
One is going through the official AOL process to acquire a legit legacy unlimited data plan from an individual. Verizon does not officially support transferring gUDPs by this method - and we haven't heard of successful transfers in some time.
The other method is utilizing a 'data broker' to spawn you a new line from either a corporate account or meddling with Verizon's systems. These methods are definitely against terms of service, and Verizon has in the past terminated lines created this way. We're not here to tell you not to try this method, but do so with open eyes as to the risks - at some point in the future Verizon may shut these lines down (and since these are postpaid plans, they have your personal information too and you could be stuck with ETFs.)
Have a gUDP line you want to sell? Unfortunately, with the AOL process no longer reliably working - the market for selling gUDP lines has pretty much dried up.
The basic process goes like this:
- You purchase a line from an existing account holder or hire a data broker.
- You then have to navigate through Verizon's AOL process to take over the account, or trust your data broker to make the necessary changes to your account. It takes some tenacity to navigate getting it done.
- Upfront costs fluctuate based on supply & demand, plan/contract offered and service provided. Range is typically $250 - 1200.
- Monthly costs are fixed and set by Verizon and can range from $15-95/month depending on how the account is setup.
- This option usually works out financially best for those seeking a longer term solution. The upfront costs (versus going rental) usually balance out after 6-8 months. Of course, there's always risk Verizon could discontinue these plans at any time.
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Video Overview of UDPs
Options for Acquiring a Verizon Unlimited Data Plan
Pros & Cons of each method - Which is right for your situation?
Shopping for Plans - What to Look For
Tips for existing Verizon customers wanting to add a UDP line
Monthly Plans and Costs
Maintaining, Using & Protecting Your Plan
- Recommended Tweaks to Make to your UDP Account to Save the Most Money
- Disabling Video Throttle
- Ways to Share Your Data - Tethering and Hotspot Options (including, using your UPD in a Jetpack/MiFi)
- Knowing your Verizon gUDP Risks
- Protecting Your Unlimited Plan into the Future
- Regulatory History (Why are Verizon unlimited plans different?)
- >>> Extending Your Contract (and keeping $29.99 pricing!) <<<
Who This Guide Is Intended For:
This guide is part of our resources to help keep RVers & cruisers online in their travels. It complements our other content on signal enhancing, routers, satellite, WiFi, TV & entertainment, other cellular plans and solutions that might be part of a mobile internet arsenal.
This guide is NOT intended to be a stand-alone 'Verizon Unlimited Data Plan Guide' for the general public, and we have no interest in selling it as such - please do not join just to gain access to this article. There are plenty of other places on the web tracking this topic that you can find with a little searching.
Why Are Verizon gUDPs So Attractive?
Verizon built the foundation of its LTE network off of a 2008 auction win of spectrum that came with strings attached - in particular requiring Verizon to adhere to stricter open access rules that none of the other carriers need to abide by.
This means that Verizon has less ability to implement throttling, or restrictions against tethering & hotspot usage. However with the new FCC and administration, this could all be changing.
All of the other carriers offer unlimited data plans again, but they all come with 'network management' and/or restrict usage of mobile hotspot.
Truly Unlimited: Becoming An Endangered Species
Back when cellular networks were slow and users were less data-addicted - carriers experimented with offering unlimited data plans at the top tiers of their pricing menus.
At the time, a heavy user might only ever consume 2GB a month, and tethering laptops and other devices was a rarity. Even the biggest data hogs weren't making much of a dent in the cellular networks, and thus were typically overlooked.
But when 4G/LTE came along, suddenly cellular networks were faster than almost all public WiFi networks - and often even faster than home cable and DSL modems could offer.
New devices were coming on to the scene with faster processors and bigger screens, encouraging people to use more and more data. Netflix and other streaming video and music sites were surging in popularity too, offering gigs of entertainment just a click away.
Tethering your laptop to get online via cellular was becoming a primary connection for some, not just a way to quickly check email while on the go. Working remotely, homeschooling families and as a primary means of entertainment became more of a norm especially for travelers.
Suddenly even an average user could easily consume many gigabytes on a cellular device... a day.
And too many people were starting to realize - why even bother dealing with WiFi when you had unlimited fast cellular data to play with? Some people even began to brag about cutting their home cable lines, and using over 500GB of data (or more!) a month on unlimited cellular plans.
With more and more people making exponentially increasing use of the physically finite cellular spectrum, it is little wonder that carriers began to freak out.
Here's a brief re-cap of the history of these plans, and the changes we have tracked on them over the years:
gUDP Use in Jetpack or Router
While these lines are technically smartphone lines, Verizon does not currently put any restrictions on mobile hotspot use - except they have terminated accounts where the SIM card has been put in to some home routers, like the T1114. You can either subscribe to their official tethering plan for $30/month, or just simply put the SIM card you activate on your smartphone into a MiFi/Jetpack.
Caution: Do NOT use these plans in Verizon's T1114 home router - Verizon has shut down accounts that use this device. We believe this is specific to this type of device in how it handles voice service and SIM cards, and will not carry over to use in Jetpacks and other routers. But we do consider there to be some increased risk. Our members have access to our risk analysis chart.
Here's our guide to swapping SIM Cards: Changing SIM Card Sizes: Cutting Down & Adapting Up
Under the new FCC however, there is suspicion that Verizon may in the future place restrictions on use of these plans in data only devices.
High Data Usage Terminations
In July 2016, Verizon started targeting 'extraordinarily' high bandwidth users for termination.
Initially, those in contract have not been targeted, but about 1200 high usage out of contract accounts 'well in excess' of 100GB a month were terminated in July 2016 and another 8200 in January 2017 with reports of customers using under 100GB. Since then, there have been no further rounds of terminations related to usage amounts.
If you're not in contract, it's unknown if there's a current 'safe' amount. As of 2019, some industry insiders consider that with a new CEO at Verizon and unlimited data plans being back - that a 'few hundred GB' may be safe these days.
If you're in contract, you're probably safe using higher amounts - but we still advise moderation. Should you not be able to extend your contract in the future, remember - you will be subject to the current thresholds for high usage.
Until/if there's another round of high usage termination - it's really a guess.
You could adopt an 'enjoy it while lasts' attitude.
DISCLAIMER: Before you attempt acquiring or tweaking a Verizon Unlimited Data Plan, realize that you are doing so at your own risk.
There is a chance you might buy the wrong thing, or you might accidentally agree to an account change that loses the unlimited plan, or that you encounter a Verizon rep along the way who makes your life difficult.
And it is pretty much guaranteed that if you acquire a line via a data broker, your line WILL be terminated at some future point. And you may be liable for early termination fees.
There is also the always present risk that Verizon might change around the terms of how they treat unlimited plans entirely - just days, weeks, months, or years after you get the account. They could decide to discontinue the plans entirely, throttle speeds, implement data caps, increase prices or cancel your plan while demanding an EFT payment.
You are responsible for making sure you stay 'in the know' as to any changes that transpire that might impact your plan. Make sure you're getting our MIA exclusive newsletters for our alerts (and reading them), tune into our special guidance webinars when hosted and put your contract expiration date on an alert calendar so you don't get caught off guard!
Summary: A Plan Worth Protecting
The Legacy Verizon gUPD was a popular plan becuase it didn't have the limitations that many of the unlimited plans of today have. The plan is no longer available directly fom Verizon. There are still ways you can get one, but beware those plans come with the risk of being terminated by Verizon as they are often against their terms of service.
If you are one of the lucky people who currently have this plan, treat it with great care. Keeping it under contract is the best way to protect it and avoid the $20/month increase Verizon started implementing in November 2015.
In June 2018, several members received letters or termination on their gUDP plans, and we've received new reports of similar terminations in July 2019. If you received one of these letters and Verizon can prove your gUDP was inappropriately acquired, you may be out of luck. But if this not the case, you may be able to push back to Verizon as outlined in the guide.
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