With Apple’s iPhone 5S expected later this year, carriers are beginning to shift around their plans and smartphone upgrade structure to match the upcoming refresh. On Friday, Verizon reported that they will now be extending the wait time for an upgrade to 24 months, up from the current 20 months that was required. The company released details about the extension in a report from The Verge, saying, “In alignment with the terms of the contract, customers on a two-year agreement will be eligible for an upgrade at 24 months vs. today’s early upgrade eligibility at 20 months.”
It is unclear why Verizon has decided to make this change as they did not give a reason for doing so. With this extension,the company will now require all customers with expiring contracts to wait the full 24 months. Customers with contracts expiring in January 2014 will reportedly be the first to get affected by the change. The new 24 month rule will also change a number of other things, including credits through the company’s New Every Two program, which will no longer be honored.
Customers will still be allowed to share upgrades but will be restricted by device category meaning that smartphone upgrades can be used on updating to a new smartphone. The same is also applicable to tablets, stopping the upgrades from being interchangeable. Verizon appears to be the only carrier that is adopting this new 24 month waiting period, with Sprint and AT&T keeping the same 20 month structure as before. Verizon had briefly mentioned in the past several weeks that it could easily transition to contract free plans if it wanted to, similar to T-Mobile’s new “Uncarrier” plans.