Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the United States, disconnected more than 8,500 customers in rural areas from its network after determining those customers were no longer profitable for the carrier to continue supporting, Ars Technica reported.
The move affects more than 8,500 customers with about 19,000 lines spread across 13 states, including Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin.
The customers being removed by Verizon have received notice of disconnection this month. Their service will officially be cut off and they will no longer be able to access the Verizon network starting on Oct. 17. According to Verizon, the notice provided to customers grants them “plenty of time” to choose another wireless provider.
The letter received from Verizon by the customers tells them, “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 customers are provided with no option to remain with Verizon and are warned that if they don’t act before the disconnection data, they will no longer be able to transfer their phone number to a different provider.
“These customers live outside of areas where Verizon operates our own network,” Verizon said in a statement to Ars Technica. “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.”
The decision to remove thousands of paying customers from its network follows a similar wave of removals that took place earlier this year. In June, the company removed customers who received their service through Verizon’s LTE in Rural America (LTEiRA) program—a service under which a number of small, regional carriers have partnered with the massive network to provide coverage to rural areas.
At the time of those disconnections, it appeared Verizon was purging heavy data users from the network who signed up through some of the smaller, partnering carriers. Users who regularly topped the Verizon soft data cap of 22GB—the point at which even “unlimited” subscribers are subject to having their data speeds “prioritized” or throttled—were targeted by the purge.
Similar to the recent run of disconnections set to go into effect later this year, Verizon is specifically targeting users in rural areas—people who may rely more on their mobile network if their home is unable to receive a broadband internet connection.
According to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 39 percent of Americans living in rural areas lack access to a service that provides broadband internet speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads.
Worse yet, 20 percent of Americans in rural regions lack access to internet services that achieve speeds of 4 Mbps downloads and 1 Mbps uploads—well below the standard even for a mobile network connection like what Verizon provides.