Navigating Verizon Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans – Assumption of Liability, Buying & Renting

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verizon-unlimited-data-plans-guide-udpTwo of the sweetest words to a RVer's ear: "Unlimited Data".

Especially data that you can share with laptops, tablets, gaming systems and for streaming video to replace a 'home internet connection.'

And especially with a cellular network that provides the most nationwide coverage.

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 video streaming optimization.

Even Verizon's New Unlimited Data plan announced on February 13, 2017 has limits of 10GB of high speed mobile hotspot/tethering and can be slowed down while on congested towers. They're not the type of internet plan most RVers are seeking to replace their home internet solution.

But Verizon's older grandfathered 'original' unlimited data plans had no such limits - no slow downs and no restrictions on mobile hotspot use. These are the plans that are in demand by RVers seeking a nationwide cellular plan. And you can still get them. Just not by walking into a Verizon store (if you do, they'll sign you up for their new limited unlimited plan.)

It is unbelievably freeing to be able to use the internet without constantly worrying about monthly data caps, overage charges, or punitive speed throttling.

Can You Still Get a Grandfathered Verizon Unlimited Data Plan (UDP)?

Yes - But with LOTS of Caution!

In 2011 Verizon retired their previous unlimited data plans and they have continued to (mostly) grandfather these plans in. While they have aggressively been shutting down OUT of contract unlimited plans, those IN contract (for now) continue to enjoy sweet unlimited data.

There are still ways for existing customers to transfer their unlimited data plans to new customers via a process known as AOL, and to stay in contract. And some corporate accounts still have the ability to keep and create unlimited data lines - and some rent those lines out (usually against Verizon's terms of service.)

And while it's possible to still get these plans and utilize them, there are some extra considerations to make before plunking down potentially big bucks to obtain and rely on one. We're tracking this constantly, and the below guidance will be updated as we learn anything addition:


Current Verizon Unlimited Data Plan Guidance

7/10/2017 ALERT: Rental vendor shuts downs continue - we have word a new round of termination letters went out with a 30-day warning. Reports of unsuccessful AOLs are also becoming more commonplace.  5/2017: Several eBay vendors of both AOLs and rentals have had their listings removed from eBay by Verizon's request. Verizon also has started to aggressively enforce their 10GB mobile hotspot cap on their NEW unlimited data plan. We continue to hear of owned OUT of contract lines being terminated as well (seems to be a pattern of averaging over 100GB of usage is triggering terminations.)

We advise high caution right now, as it seems Verizon will continue to aggressively trim out these grandfathered unlimited plans.

New Updated Guidance Video Posted in Member Area Below.

 

Also see the current recommendations below for Rentals & AOLs.

Our members have access to our further in-depth guidance, including:

  • Rental Plans (what are the risks)
  • AOL (Assumption of Liability - is it still advisable?)
  • Contracts & Extension (Will a contract keep a plan safe? Should you extend now, or wait? How do you extend your contract?)
  • Thoughts on Data Usage - how much is too much? Should you conserve or does a contract really mean unlimited?

Not a member? Join Now. 

But Why Are Verizon Plans So Attractive?

vzw-logo-156-130-cVerizon 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.

All of the other carriers offer unlimited data plans again, but they all come with 'network management' and/or restrict usage of mobile hotspot.

More Info: Understanding Unlimited Data Plans

 

Caution: All of this can change at any moment. When Verizon first offered these unlimited lines, internet usage wasn't as widespread as it is today - and they would love nothing more than to get rid of these plans. And they have started to make moves to do so.

These are grandfathered plans, and even if you have a contract - Verizon can change the terms and let you out of contract without paying a termination fee.

There is inherent risk that these plans can go away, or be changed in substantial ways that make them less attractive.

We can make absolutely no promises on what the future holds.

But we do promise to help our members best navigate the changes.

 

So, How do You Get a UDP?

There are two primary ways for consumers to gain access to one of these lines:

Option 1: Rental/Lease ($119 - 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).

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 were under audit by Verizon for this practice. Several were shut down for contract breach, and others given warnings to reduce usage. As a result, many vendors have implemented data caps on their lines. We've seen the range vary from 90 - 250 GB per month.

Current Recommendation: As of July 2017, we are getting a new round of reports of vendors being shut down. Be sure to have a back-up plan should your plan be terminated with little warning.

  • 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 $119 - 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.
  • This method is best for those who need a flexible short-term plan (such as a seasonal travel), can't qualify for a Verizon account (bad credit, international citizenship, etc.) or just don't want to go through the AOL process.  However, for those seeking a solution beyond about 6-8 months - it might be better to pursue AOL to obtain your own line (described below).
  • Data Caps: After the summer 2016 crack down, some rental vendors now have data caps ranging from 90-500GB a month.
  • 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.)

These are not necessarily endorsements or recommendations. We get absolutely no kickbacks for listing any vendor and have no affiliation with any of them. These are simply vendors who maintain their own public web presence (their own website) offering their plans.

Note: Due to how aggressively Verizon is removing public listings and shutting down vendors, we no longer list vendors without their own web presence in this public listing.  Members, please be logged in to see other options.

  • Keith Graham / Wanderlust RV: A fellow RVer who offers access to his lines at $145/month lines, with a $45 upfront activation fee for a SIM card only. You can reach him at: 405-872-6289 or adc.graham@gmail.com or via his Facebook Page which has more details. He has a 100GB data cap on his plans.
  • VZW Unlimited Data Rental:  Check their website for current pricing (pricing seems to change frequently). Email:  vzw.ultd.data@gmail.com
  • Unlimitedville: Currently lists their Verizon rental option at $249/month. They've told us they have an official agreement with Verizon to lease their lines, thus their method is 'protected'. They also claim to have no data cap.

Data Vendors & Brokers:  Want to be listed here or in our member section? Please be in touch at info@rvmobileinternet.com and introduce yourself and what you offer. We take absolutely no listing fees, advertisement dollars or kickbacks for listings.

Option 2: AOL (Assumption of Liability - $45-95/month)

This is the most legit way to obtain an unlimited line, as you end up with a direct relationship with Verizon, and usually a contract that keeps you a bit more protected if they change terms on these grandfathered plans.

Thus far, all account terminations due to high usage are only impacting those out of contract.

The upfront costs are higher (ranging from $150 - $1000), but this cost tends to balance out for those seeking a solution in excess of a few months as compared to a rental. The process is a bit tricky to get it setup and you do need to educate yourself on the best practices to protect your plan into the future.

Our guide focuses on getting and keeping a UDP line under contract for the best protection, and our members receive alerts as things change.

The basic process goes like this:

  • You purchase a line from an existing account holder or data broker.
  • You then have to navigate through Verizon's AOL process to take over the account. It takes some tenacity to navigate getting it done.
  • Upfront costs fluctuate based on supply & demand, plan/contract offered and service provided. Current range is $150 -1000. Expect to pay on the higher side if you want to use a vendor who walks you through the process and guarantees successful AOL.
  • Monthly costs are fixed and set by Verizon and can range from $45-95/month depending on how the account is setup. Using the methods we outline in our guide, most our members end up paying $45 to 65 (plus taxes & fees).
  • 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.
  • The member portion of this guide below goes into details on how to currently best do this (it changes all the time!). For more information on getting access to this guide and what is included, scroll down below.

 

More Information On these Verizon UDP Plans:

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.

LTE offers the promise of cellular data speeds that can outrun most home cable and DSL lines!

LTE offers the promise of cellular data speeds that can outrun most home cable and DSL lines!

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:

While lines that you AOL 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

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. We advise caution going forward.

If you're not in contract, there seems to be no current 'safe' amount we can advise particularly after the January 2017 termination round being so aggressive. We have heard speculation that now Verizon is sending out automatic termination letters once an out of contract line averages 100GB of usage over the past 3 months.

If you're in contract, you're probably safe using higher amounts - but we still advise moderation.

In the rest of this guide below (which is member only), we share what we're tracking in the industry based on our own research and member feedback as they go through the process. We also have contact information to vendors for both AOLs and rentals who our members have reported back very positive experiences with.

This guide is updated constantly.


Table of Contents

This 20,000+ word article covers the Verizon Unlimited Plan - how to keep it if you have it, and the remaining options to obtain such a plan for yourself.


 

MIA-final_FullColor web

Member Only Content

The rest of this in-depth guide will walk-you through the steps to obtain a Verizon Unlimited Plan and keep it as protected as possible going forward.

Due to the depth & frequency of changes to this guide, it is part of our exclusive offerings for our premium members.

If there are major changes that impact UDPs, our members also get e-mail alerts to keep them 'in the know' and we help them navigate the next steps.
Who This Guide Is Intended For:

This guide is part of our resources to help keep RVers 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.

To proceed with this guide, please log in above, or
Join as a Mobile Internet Aficionados member

 

DISCLAIMER: Before you attempt acquiring 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.

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 or increase prices.

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), subscribe to our Special Announcement Verizon UDP Forum thread, 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!

Further related resources:

Understanding Unlimited Cellular Data Plans
The Four Major US Carriers – Which is Best for RVers?

 

 

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