Verizon Says Users Don't Have to Ditch Their Contracts

Verizon now offers mobile devices without contracts, but users who like their existing two-year contracts can keep them, the company says.

Verizon Wireless, smartphones, tablets, mobile contracts, no-contract, T-Mobile, Sprint

When Verizon Wireless announced earlier in August that it was dumping two-year contracts for its mobile devices and services, some contract-bound consumers apparently were worried that they'd have to switch to no-contract plans.

That was never the case, even when Verizon first announced its no-contract future, but the company fielded so many questions from customers that it is clarifying the fact that consumers can keep their contracts.

"Verizon's earlier post about new simplified data choices generated lots of media stories that explained these great new options for customers," wrote Chuck Hamby, a Verizon spokesman, in an Aug. 26 update on the Verizon Website. "New customers buzzed about the value offered by the new Verizon Data Plan—and yet something very important was muted a bit: if you're a Verizon customer on a 2-year contract, you can absolutely stay on that plan."

The contracts will continue to offer subsidized pricing on new devices that customers may purchase, Hamby wrote. Meanwhile, customers who choose the no-contract plans will be able to spread the full cost of their phone or tablet evenly over 24 interest-free months and will be able to upgrade anytime once the device is paid in full, he added.

Current customers who leave their contracts for the new no-contract plans will not have the option to return to a contract plan, though, according to Verizon.

"Our sole intention of this new pricing is to make things more simple for our customers—so you know exactly what you're paying for and how you're saving," wrote Hamby. "With these new options, choosing a wireless plan on the nation's best 4G LTE network is simple and straightforward."

Earlier in August, Sprint also announced that it is ditching two-year smartphone contracts and subsidized, discounted handsets as a way to retain customers. Instead, Sprint now vows to stop offering contracts by the end of 2015 and move entirely to leasing plans that will allow customers to switch phones more often, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

The moves by Verizon and Sprint follow T-Mobile's move more than two years ago to end contracts for customers. AT&T also offers no-contract leasing plans.

For Verizon, the ending of such contracts is a huge concession. Firm in its belief for years that contracts are king, the company pushed back against rivals like T-Mobile that were tearing up customer contracts and letting their customers choose their services and their carrier relationships without limitations.

Verizon announced on Aug. 7 its new policy for no-contract phones in the future so that customers could begin to choose from no-contract services that will more closely match their wireless needs and lifestyles.

Under its new contract-free mobile plans, Verizon said it will offer monthly packages that customers can customize, starting at $20 per smartphone per month plus a choice of four data packages ranging from $30 a month for 1GB of shareable data to $80 a month for 12GB of shareable data. A 3GB shareable data package is $45 a month, while a 6GB package is $60 a month. Unlimited talk and text are included with all of the packages, and extra data can be purchased at $15 per GB. Monthly access charges for a tablet or Verizon Jetpack hotspot will be $10 per month.