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Developing: Verizon May Block MVNOs From Activating Non-Verizon Phones

File this in the unconfirmed rumor category for now but Selectel Wireless has reportedly notified its dealers that Verizon will soon block users from activating non-Verizon BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) devices on all Verizon MVNOs. The following message was reportedly posted by Selectel's president on a closed Facebook group for Selectel dealers:

"Verizon recently announced that only approved devices will be activated on the VZW network beginning June 24, 2014. This affects all wholesalers in the Verizon world—including devices that are “talk and text only” devices. Each Verizon MVNO has their own list of devices which have been approved, and there is also a process to add a device(s) to the list. Verizon is grandfathering existing end user handsets that are currently active on the VZW network, but with some important points:

If the device requires a change of MDNs, the device will be subject to the requirements of the Network Device policy.

If an ESN change is required, the new ESN must be associated with an approved phone, and the ESN must be in the VZW database as “accepted” in order to provide service to the handset.


The inventory must be certified, with ESN list provided to VZW, by a VZW-certified wholesale house, who will be certifying that the software in the ESNs provided is the same as the device that was tested and approved in the VZW laboratory."

I haven't seen the rumored announcement and dealers for other Verizon MVNOs don't seem to have been notified of any change in BYOP activation procedures.

If this rumor is true, it means that it will no no longer be possible to activate Sprint, U.S. Cellular, Cricket, MetroPCS, etc. phones on any Verizon MVNO including PagePlus, Selectel and BYO Wireless.

Although the "announcement" quoted above seems to imply that even Verizon devices must be certified as approved for use on a specific MVNO, that seems impractical to implement, especially on such short notice. I suspect that clean-ESN genuine Verizon phones will be automatically approved for all MVNOs. The certification by a VZW-certified wholesale house requirement hopefully only applies to non-Verizon phones that have been commercially re-manufactured with the original phone software replaced by Verizon software, something that's possible with many non-smartphones and a few smartphones.

Currently active non-approved phones will be grandfathered and will continue to work provided they remain continuously activated on the same phone number (MDN). Switching from a grandfathered device to an approved device and then back to the grandfathered phone will fail as will doing an "ESN reset", which is sometimes required to fix data issues.

BYOP, including activation of non-Verizon phones, which requires "flashing" the phone with Verizon specific settings using specialized software, has been a part of the Verizon MVNO scene for as long as I can remember. Flashing has gotten a lot more popular lately because it's required to make Verizon LTE phones work on MVNOs as 3G only devices. It's just as easy and in many cases even easier to flash a non-Verizon LTE phone as a Verizon one.

If there's a silver lining in all of this it's that it may be a precursor to Verizon finally allowing Verizon LTE phones on MVNOs without flashing. Flashed phones are fragile and the user must be careful to avoid things like OTA updates, factory resets or phone number changes which can all "break" the flash. I think being able to use modern LTE phones on Verizon MVNOs without jumping through hoops would be worth losing the ability to flash non-Verizon phones.

Update 5/27; I've heard from a couple of Selectel dealers that I left out the first paragraph of Selectel president Matt Ofalherty's Facebook post quoted above. The missing part reads

"One of our dealers sent this to us today....it does not affect us since we are on postpaid however it may affect some of you that offer other providers"  

That introductory paragraph, was missing from initial second hand report of this "announcement" that I saw on HowardForumsOfalherty's introductory paragraph makes the rumor less credible. Apparently the announcement of the BYOP policy change isn't something that Verizon notified Selectel of directly. Instead it comes from a Selectel dealer who got it from some unspecified source! 

It seems unlikely that Verizon would reveal an important policy change like this to a single dealer rather than to the management of all Verizon MVNOs. I also have a hard time believing that Verizon would exempt one small MVNO, Selectel, from this change. That would give Selectel a huge advantage over other Verizon MVNOs, which would be unfair and very difficult to justify to trusted partners like PagePlus which has been a Verizon MVNO for over 20 years.

Update 5/29; PPC_Rocks, who is PagePlus' Marketing Manager Denny Scher has posted on Kitty Forums that:

"I would never rule out the possibility of it - anything is possible. But if something like this were to happen, and it was going to affect Page Plus customers, then we would certainly announce it. You would be the first to know. What's baffling, other than the fact that no one can trace the rumor to a credible source, is why a "competitor" would make such an announcement, and in the same breath say that their customers would not be affected. FUD, as you say?"

Based on Scher's statement I believe that the rumor is false and Verizon won't be making any changes to MVNO activation procedures in the immediate future.


43 comments:

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  1. GSM carriers are going to kick their butt if they keep trying to isolate themselves....

    Steve

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  2. Heh... And people seem to think Sprint's BYOD policies are strict... I'd say this PROVES otherwise!!!!! Besides, it's Verizon's network, and they put their blood, sweat, and tears into building it, so why shouldn't they have the right to say what kind of phones are allowed on it? Geez, some people clearly don't believe in freedom and free enterprise!

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  3. SOOO glad I moved over to AT&T! I can buy a OnePlus One and pop my SIM card in. I don't have to flash a phone, use Verizon's CDMA 3G network, or pay their premium prices. Now I get the cheap phones on a fast network for a reasonable price. Kind of a no brainer...

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    1. Be very careful about the One Plus One. They are brand new with only 11 employees and zero track record. How will they provide warranty support in 16 countries? How will they provide tech support? How does a new company whose executives have zero track record acquire the capital to buy all those expensive phones from Oppo? Oppo has had serious problems with quality control. Why would someone buy the One Plus made by Oppo when they can have a LG Nexus with a real warranty?

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  4. I've given up on Verizon so i don't really care. They are evil in so many ways, especially price and policy.

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  5. I was planning to move to GSM anyway. Now, it will happen sooner than later.

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  6. In Nebraska At&t and Sprint MVNO's are covered only in the 2 main cities, once out of those cities, you get nothing. Verizon on the other hand is everywhere, so if you travel, Verizon MVNO's are they only way to go.

    Also, maybe this is a sign that we can use 4G phones on Page Plus or Selectel, but with the 4G antennas disabled or have some sort of sim card that only allows 3G signals. Change is not always bad if that's the case.

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  7. I'd like to respectfully disagree with Dennis's statement on tradeoff as Att and Tmobile already allow full byod AND LTE so that makes it a poor tradeoff imho. If they kept full non Verioon byod but changed the activation status so you can ota a Verizon lte device to the mvno rolls, that's be okay but to throw away full cdma byod ? That's just a huge waste.

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  8. After many years with Verizon And recently trying an ATT mvno on an extra line for an experiment..I am sold on switching all my family to a gsm network..Its this type of hoggish display of power by Verizon that had me vowing to NEVER return..Besides am tired of their rip off pricing anyway..In my area I have found that ATT signal has been vastly improved.. Add to that Sims card simplicity.. Its a simple choice...Sooo long Verizon..

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  9. All of this information is based on something that may or may not have been stated by a company who has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau whose complaints are primarily in the field of dishonest and/or unethical behaviors. If Selectel did state this I would take with an extremely small grain of salt any truth into it, until Verizon states otherwise. IMHO it is just a stunt if they (Selectel) did state this to get a bunch of hits for themselves by bringing in some controversial material. In effect by everyone discussing this on facebook and now through this article which is nothing more than a recap of the following story: https://www.facebook.com/groups/112929092058946/780269845324864/?ref=notif&notif_t=group_comment_reply They can move their name up in rankings.

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  10. People first off this is nothing more than a recap of: https://www.facebook.com/groups/112929092058946/780269845324864/?ref=notif&notif_t=group_comment_reply. There is so far no validity to any truth to this story. If Selectel stated it, I certainly have no reason to believe them as first off they have an F rating with BBB, and they have various statements of questionable truth made through Howard Forums. They are just trying if they did state Verizon (IMHO) to raise themselves up in ranking.

    I say till we hear from someone who actually has some credibility to their names that Verizon has stated this, we simply ignore it, and let it die, without pushing Verizon down while at the same time pushing a possibly dishonest and unethical company up.

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    1. To be fair, the BBB rating is based on the fact that Selectel is a relatively new company that did not drop everything to give BBB a lot of info they requested. And 2 complaints that Selectel did not answer to BBB. Certainly a knee-jerk reaction to call them all those names and question their cred.
      I rate them high for service, pricing, no-extra-cost roaming and CS. I thought they were charging us more data than we used. They checked, fixed the issue and gave us a $10 credit without me asking for it. I always get US-based support; have not talked to their office in Philippines yet.

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    2. I rate Selectel extremely high on customer service. I called into them on something once, and quickly WITHOUT ASKING got someone high up in the company who was very helpful.

      Contrast to the others, where it is the opposite: instead of quickly getting someone high up without asking, who gives you extra info...

      ....you take forever to get someone very low in the company who gives you far less info that you want.

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  11. With Verizon's super competitive pricing on prepaid phones and new rate plans, many people will be well served by Verizon Prepaid and won't need an MVNO. Verizon Prepaid now offers unlimited talk, text and 1.5 GB data for$51.67 / month before discounts. The Moto G or LG Optimus Exceed 2 are often priced under $100 new and the refurbished IPhone 4 is usually $99 from Verizon. Considering the superiority of Verizon's network, I think these prices are hard to beat.

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    1. There's nothing competitive about that pricing, and you're limited to Verizon's archaic CDMA 3G network.

      Cricket is $45/month after auto-pay (including taxes) and includes HSPA+ and LTE.

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    2. Competitive? I have found Verizon's rates to be double or triple compared to what I can get elsewhere. Even after the "improved" rates. And those phone selections you gave are crippled harder to use phones without keyboards.

      The prices are hard to beat, yeah, only if someone is reading from Verizon ad copy.

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    3. Cricket is $50 actually (the $40 plan has almost no data). But other than that, it looks good...

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    4. Cricket, even Cricket GSM, has far less coverage than Verizon. Cricket has terrible customer service compated to Verizon's good prepaid customer service.
      This website has an number of thorough articles contrasting the features of various telcos and MVNOs including price. I suggest you familiarize your self with them so you will know Verizon's plans are competitive.

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  12. Yes but if I not mistaken(correct me if I'm wrong) Selectel has roaming agreements in the same areas that Verizon post paid has.whereas Verizon prepaid does not have those. I learned this when I was with NextG.In Wi.I would pay roaming in some large areas. The same as Verizon prepaid. With Selectel I pay no roaming for talking in those same areas.

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    1. Supposedly Verizon prepaid doesn't charge for roaming. I don't know b/ I have Page Plus, but I've asked 4-5 different CSR's and all said to look at the prepaid map, if it's "purple" then you aren't roaming. But we all know how well informed some of the reps are.

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    2. Verizon prepaid charges for roaming. Selectel does not; their deal was done with the parent company of Vzw.

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    3. Verizon has no parent company any longer selectel is done port your numbers veruzon prepaid has become aggressive and will take the market from little crap mvnos like selectel. Roaming agreements I'd say they are past due selectel pay up.

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    4. Verizon Communications will be surprised to learn that they are not the parent company of Verizon Wireless.
      Our Selectel phone is still working fine, and nothing in this post or elsewhere even hints that they are "done." Their deal was with Verizon Communications, not Verizon Wireless, one reason why they offer free roaming. Yes, they 'pay up' for this.
      The other 'little crap' is the idea that Verizon Prepaid will drive MVNOs out. They target different customers who are willing to pay more. Without MVNOs, Vzw could not fill their increasingly empty EVDO network to help pay for its operation. Dumb idea, and Vzw is not dumb.

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  13. Selectel was a master dealer for Page Plus once upon a time.Then they struck out on their own as part of a new wave of smaller Verizon mvnos, most of which have died (Next G, Talk For Good). The positive thing about those other mvnos were that they UNDOUBTEDLY allowed FULL Cdma byod via flashing vs today's latest Verizon mvnos like Red Pocket and Byo Wireless which only allow Verizon 3G devices. From what I understand, Selectel gained a lot of followers when it was announced that Tracfone would buy out Page Plus. And at that time their plans were very similar. But in due time Selectel started to get left behind as a tiny independent while Page Plus, newly backed up by Tracfone's might kept getting better and better rates, especially on data to the point that Selectel actively dropped or raised the prices on their highest data plans. Selectel has one distinctive advantage over most other Verizon mvnos besides byod over the newest ones: postpaid coverage , ie.free roaming. But those little swathes of country out in Nebraska and Kentucky and et al aren't enough for it to go head to head with Page Plus and mighty Tracfone. Whether all this brohaha about byod being put up by them is true or not, we will know all on June 25. Just hang loose and see if tis' true or simple bs. Like a l, there are many alternates (for most people) out there. If Verizon does decide to destroy a true advantage against gsm and Sprint, that is their fault considering how weak their mvno program is (not including Page Plus itself and Veriozn prepaid) . Sprint and Tmobile mvnos may fail but at least they have sheer volume to compensate. There are way fewer Verizon mvnos, they should really strengthen that program so they stop having so many failures. Getting rid of byod if program. But if it's a dirty tactic employed by a small and desperate mvno (whether they are desperate or not has yet to be proven or disproven), then it'd be a whole nother ball of wax. All I know is that Page Plus is, has been and will continue to be the biggest major Verizon mvno . Lack of full cdma byod will most definitely urt them though. But I'm sure in other ways to compensate. If nothing, Carlos Slim has lots of connections and oodles of money. Certanly more then independents like Selectel, et al.
    We'll see, we'll see.

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    1. " All I know is that Page Plus is, has been and will continue to be the biggest major Verizon mvno"

      Page Plus coverage is terrible compared to Selectel. Unless Page Plus fixes this and has the roaming Selectel does, Selectel will become the huge one and crippled Page Plus will become tiny.

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    2. "All I know is that Page Plus is, has been and will continue to be the biggest major Verizon mvno"
      Is this true? I thought TracFone/ST/Net10 was a much bigger Verizon MVNO.

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    3. The coverage is about the same. You just have to pay the roaming fee on Pplus. That does not happen often unless you are in WV, NB, or other rural western and some midwestern areas.

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    4. That is a deceptive way to put it, sorry. If you have to pay an exhorbitant fee with one to get the coverage the other provides without the fee, there is no way you can say the coverage is the same. There's a huge amount of territory difference here.

      Except for SelecTel being new and less established, it is a much better deal due to this big problem with PagePlus.

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    5. "The coverage is about the same. You just have to pay the roaming fee on Pplus." I think the only people who are deceived by this are people who cannot tell the difference between coverage and price.

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    6. The coverage is not the same at all, and not comparable, if the area only becomes similar if you pay a massive very high per-minute extra fee on one of the carriers. With PagePlus, you have to pay a huge amount extra in order to get the coverage Selectel already offers for a low price.

      The person who also said Page Plus roaming hardly happens at all was also being deceptive in naming just a few of the area outside of PP coverage. They didn't mention half of Kentucky being left out of coverage, the heart of Wisconsin. huge swaths of Missouri, etc. They curiously mentioned New Brunswick, which is outside the US.

      The point is that Selectel offers much better coverage than PagePlus for a very similar price. A no-brainer choice.

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    7. It sounds like you have never actually used PagePlus. It has virtually the same US coverage as Selectel. When you are in a roaming area, the Extended Verizon network, you just have to enter the phone number a second time for the call to go through. Yes, you pay the roaming fee, but you still have coverage.

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  14. Who in the world is using CDMA anymore???

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    1. Verizon is has the largest subscriber base in the nation, ask them.

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    2. In the entire universe, ONLY Verizon and Sprint, and if Sprint/T-Mo merger ever happens, Sprint will switch to HSPA+/LTE like the rest of the world (at least I hope so, otherwise by by Sprint, HELLLLLOOOO at&t.

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    3. Not true. Although CDMA global market share is much smaller that GSM and shrinking, there are CDMA networks operating in at least 100 countries. Korea is mostly CDMA. Reliance (india) with 136 million subscribers is bigger than Verizon and China Telecom (185 million) Is bigger than Verizon and Sprint combined.

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  15. Att and Verizon are neck and neck.

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    1. Only if they have VERY thick necks ;-)

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    2. True, Verizon 122 million subscribers, AT&T 116 million.

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  16. Selectel has some advantages over Page Plus, but really they should start just trying to be a great little mvno by doing well instead of undercutting others. Small minded actions (if that is what they are doing) ultimately get one nowhere. No amount of envy is going to change the fact that Page Plus, prepaid vs postpaid coverage or not , is the biggest single Verizon mvno out there And has Tracfone , the biggest prepaid carrier in the US in their corner. No amount of backbiting (if indeed there is) is going to change that.

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  17. I confirmed it through a major prepaid master dealer who happens to also run a small Verizon mvno. The target date is Juily 1 instead of June 24. There will be no other "non Verizon certified " devices allowed on any Verizon mvno after that. Rumor is this is a precursor to LTiE but even if it is, it is estimated to be over six months away at the earlliest. A bad transition period for sure.

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  18. Not sure when but I believe it will happen at some point (within a year).

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  19. I am a dealer for Selectel and I am a member of their fb group. I did not see anything in their message to us dealers that pp would be affected by this. They did state that the email was from another MVNO to see if Selectel was going to be affected. I appreciate the fact they gave us warning this was coming. They claim they will not be affected which we will see come July 1st however I will continue to stick with them because they treat us dealers and our customers like a customer should be treated and not just a number like we were treated with pp. And the coverage is the same as contract coverage which is much better than pp and the service works in Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas with no extra fees which other companies do not offer.

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