In response to T-Mobile’s move to being a no-contract carrier, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said his company could also do away with contracts if customers asked for it. Well, the customers are asking! An online petition on Change.org calling for Verizon to end contracts for smartphones currently has over 60,000 signatures and is continuing to grow.
The petition was started by Mike Beauchamp, a self-described long-time Verizon customer. In a statement posted on the petition page, Beauchamp calls attention to the changing nature of the phone business and the need for carriers to adapt. “Let’s face it; phones aren’t really phones anymore. They’re data devices for accessing the Internet and everything connected to it, that happen to also make calls,” he wrote. “[Carriers have] created a business model where most of their revenue comes from data. So why would anyone want to be tied into a contract for two years? The major handset manufacturers all release updated, newer, faster, more powerful devices much more frequently.”
In recent years, the standard practice of wireless carriers has been to subsidize the high cost of smartphones and require customers to sign up for long-term contracts. These contracts leave customers with restrictions on how often they can upgrade their phone and with penalty fees for early termination. T-Mobile issued a challenge to the status quo by abandoning contracts and subsidies, meaning that customers have to pay the full cost of their smartphones, but get lower monthly service costs and have more freedom to switch plans or upgrade.
It’s too early to tell if T-Mobile’s move will ignite a contract revolution or just fizzle out, but initial customer interest seems to be high to judge from the petition. Verizon has not yet responded to the petition, which received more than 7,000 signatures on Saturday alone and made Change.org’s front page. The customers are calling for change, but will the big carriers listen?