Rumor: Verizon to End 3G and non-VoLTE Phone Activations July 1

  • Last week, a HowardForums member posted that he was told privately by two Verizon MVNOs that Verizon will no longer allow the activation non-VoLTE capable phones on its network after July 1, 2018. See the screenshot below for a copy of a memo that one MVNO received from Verizon (click the image for a larger version).

    I’m treating this as a rumor for now, but a credible one.  Adding credence to the rumor, four months ago a Verizon support chat transcript (screenshot below) was posted to Reddit. In the chat the Verizon representative confirmed that activation of non-LTE devices would not be allowed after July 30, 2018. I think this chat was regarding data-only IoT devices. The Reddit post also contains a link to a scan of document on Verizon letterhead that states that Verizon will not activate non-LTE IoT devices after June 30, 2018 .

    Neither Verizon or any of its MVNOs have announced this change publicly, but that makes sense. Nearly two years ago, Verizon announced that it’s planing to shut down its 2G and 3G networks at the end of 2019. That’s less than two years away, so now seems like a good time to start blocking devices that will soon become unusable. I can understand the lack of a public announcement too. At some point, Verizon will probably offer customers, especially postpaid customers who still have legacy phones, free VoLTE phones. Verizon is probably waiting until closer to the end of 2019, to notify affected customers so they don’t have to give away any more free devices than they have to. The MVNOs and their dealers likely have inventories of 3G only and non VoLTE devices to unload on unsuspecting buyers before making an announcement.

    For a list of the VoLTE capable phones that Verzion is currently selling,  see this page which is filtered to show HD Voice capable phones only. Although HD Voice is not VoLTE, Verizon’s implementation of HD Voice requires VoLTE. Verizon seems to prefer calling VoLTE, HD Voice, probably to avoid having to explain the technology to its customers. The list of HD Voice (VoLTE) capable phones includes the iPhone 6 and SE and later, the Google Pixels and Verizon branded Android phones released in the last year or so. There’s even a VoLTE capable flip phone, the ZTE Cymbal LTE.

    The HD Voice capable phone page has tabs for postpaid and prepaid phones. Note that the prepaid phones can only be used on Verizon MVNOs after they have been activated on Verizon Prepaid and a required minimum amount of prepaid airtime, typically between $ 75 and $ 150, has been added to the account. The postpaid phones must be fully paid for before they can be used on Verizon MVNOs.

    There’s a longer list of VoLTE capable phones listed on the Boom Mobile Verizon MVNO site. Users have reported that VoLTE doesn’t currently work on some  of the older phones on that list. Other than on Boom Mobile and with a few phones on TracFone MVNOs, VoLTE doesn’t currently work on most Verizon MVNOs. I expect that all Verizon MVNOs will eventually support VoLTE (they have to by January 1, 2020), but most will take their sweet time doing it.

    It’s possible that Verizon’s announcement to MVNOs is a trial balloon designed to gauge the MVNOs reaction.  As there are relatively few VoLTE capable devices available to MVNOs and MVNO dealers, I expect that their will be push back from the MVNOs. Verizon might extend the deadline for non-VoLTE activation, like they did when they blocked “flashed” non-Verizon phones in 2014.

    Rumor, or not, I recommend that readers avoid purchasing non-VoLTE capable phones for use on Verizon or Verizon MVNOs. For customers who already have non-VoLTE phones, you have until June 30, 2018 to get them on the MVNO you want because starting July 1 you probably won’t be able to change them to a different MVNO. Non-VoLTE phones that are in service on June 30, 2018 should continue to work until December 31, 2019 provided the user doesn’t allow their service to lapse.

    Sources HowardForums, Reddit
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