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Verizon kicks 8,500 rural customers off network for using roaming data

Verizon is disconnecting another 8,500 rural customers from its wireless network, saying that roaming charges have made certain customer accounts unprofitable for the carrier.

The 8,500 customers have 19,000 lines and live in 13 states (Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin), a Verizon Wireless spokesperson told Ars today. They received notices of disconnection this month and will lose access to Verizon service on October 17.

“These customers live outside of areas where Verizon operates our own network,” Verizon said. “Many of the affected consumer lines use a substantial amount of data while roaming on other providers’ networks and the roaming costs generated by these lines exceed what these consumers pay us each month.”

“We sent these notices in advance so customers have plenty of time to choose another wireless provider,” Verizon also said.

We wrote about an earlier wave of disconnections in June. The affected customers are supported by Verizon’s LTE in Rural America (LRA) program, which relies on a partnership between Verizon and small rural carriers who lease Verizon spectrum in order to build their own networks.

One customer says family only used 50GB across four lines

Verizon said in June that it was only disconnecting “a small group of customers” who were “using vast amounts of data—some as much as a terabyte or more a month—outside of our network footprint.”

But one customer, who contacted Ars this week about being disconnected, said her family never used more than 50GB of data across four lines despite having an “unlimited” data plan.

“Now we are left with very few choices, none of them with good service,” the customer told us. “I guess small-town America means nothing to these people. It’s OK—though I live in a small town, I know a lot of people, and I’m telling every one of them to steer clear of Verizon.”

READ MORE: Verizon Enterprise Solutions & Verizon Business Markets: 2Q 2017 highlights

Verizon’s letters to customers begin with the following statement: “During a recent review of customer accounts, we discovered you are using a significant amount of data while roaming off the Verizon Wireless network. While we appreciate you choosing Verizon, after October 17, 2017, we will no longer offer service for the numbers listed above since your primary place of use is outside the Verizon service area.”

The letters do not provide any options for customers to stick with Verizon, even if they reduce their data use. Verizon also warns customers that if they don’t act by the October 17 disconnection date, “you will no longer be able to transfer your phone numbers to a different provider.” Source

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