A petition hosted at Change.org is asking Verizon to follow in T-Mobile's footsteps and drop contract requirements for customers. The petition has already gathered more than 79,000 signatures out of a goal of 150,000.
[Update: We added Verizon's statement.]
Change.org Image for Petition
Earlier in April, T-Mobile announced its "Uncarrier" plans that let customers buy an iPhone without an annual service contract. The company is offering iPhone owners unlimited talk time for $50 a month, and 2GB of data for $10 a month or unlimited data for $20 a month.
With this plan, T-Mobile is essentially selling unsubsidized iPhones. Customers buy their iPhones for up-front down payments similar to the subsidized model, with 24 $20 monthly payments. Users can leave T-Mobile any time they want, though they must still pay off the iPhone if they do.
In practice, the Uncarrier plan is similar to the subsidy model that is the norm in the U.S., but it allows users the freedom to leave the carrier without a penalty. Plus, users who use their devices for longer than two years save money after the device is paid off.
AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all subsidize iPhone prices with a required two-year contract, but users continue paying the higher price for their data plans as long as they use their devices.
On April 8th, Verizon said that it would consider dropping the contract/subsidy model if customers asked for it. The petition at Change.org is an attempt to rally Verizon's 100 million customers to do just that, ask Big Red. From the petition:
Getting rid of carrier contracts is a win for customers. Verizon's CEO, Lowell McAdam, has already expressed his willingness to do away with them if consumers speak loud enough about it. So here's your chance: sign this petition to tell Verizon to end carrier contracts and create an affordable way for consumers to purchase their devices. If you're a current customer, you don't have to switch carriers or have plans to switch carriers. I've been a long-time Verizon customer and I don't see myself ever leaving; but I want that choice myself; I don't want them making it for me and imposing stiff penalties if I do decide to leave.
You can read more at Change.org.
In a statement, Verizon told The Mac Observer, "Verizon Wireless has for years offered many different choices for customers, including contract plans or month-to-month plans that do not require a contract."
Note that the comment doesn't really say anything, but the petition hasn't even been submitted yet. As such, a noncommittal statement is far more than many companies would offer in response.