updated 04:40 pm EDT, Tue September 16, 2008
Verizon Contract Free Leak
Verizon is close to finally ending its insistence on contracts, according to a tip given to BGR. Where the carrier has previously demanded that customers sign up for at least one year of service, the detailed leak suggests that all but government subscribers will have the option of paying for service strictly on a month-to-month basis. As with other carriers that follow the policy, Verizon would reportedly charge full price and activation fees for the devices to reflect the absence of the normal subsidy. In return, these customers would avoid the early termination fee regardless of how soon they cancel service.
The move would be conditional and, as with most carriers, may exclude contract-free users from promotional deals that themselves require a contract. However, users would also have portability for those CDMA devices that can be unlocked and will theoretically have the option of porting over devices that aren't part of Verizon's immediate collection.
If accurate, the claim has Verizon announcing the move on September 21st and will allow existing customers to switch from contract to month-to-month, though the full pricing for making the transition isn't part of the apparent slip.
A transition to no-obligation service may remove pressure from regulators concerned about product lock-in but is also necessary for Verizon's Any App, Any Device initiative, which will allow unlocked, unofficial cellphones and other cellular-capable handhelds to work on Verizon's phone or data networks as long as the company has performed a basic level of testing. It also prepares the network for an eventual transition to 4G, when Verizon will use a technology that more easily allows unlocked phones and increases demand for the option.
The company would be one of the last major providers in the US to offer contract-free pricing, as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile already have such policies in place.