H2O Wireless sent the email above to its dealers today saying that H2O is suspending its Verizon powered enVie Wireless brand services, effective immediately. H2O blamed unspecified "persistent underlying carrier issues" for the shutdown. H2O's other services, which are all AT&T based, are not affected. Surprisingly, there's no mention of the imminent shutdown on the public facing enVie Wireless web page.
Update 3/11: The enVie website has been updated with the following message:
"Due to circumstances beyond our control with our underlying carrier, all enVie Mobile services has been suspended. This does not affect the services on H2O, H2O Bolt and easyGO. Please contact Customer Service at 1 800-420-6981 about re-establishing your service. We’re sorry for the inconvenience."
H2O is offering affected enVie customers a free SIM and a month of service on H2O's $40 plan. This offer is available at H2O dealers or by calling H2O customer support. Unfortunately, unless they have a phone with GSM support like an iPhone 4s or later of a Moto G4, enVie customers will need a new phone that's compatible with the AT&T network to take advantage of H2O's offer. According to an H2O spokesperson posting on HowardForums, H2O will also give a free GSM phone to any enVie customer who does not already own a compatible phone. Call customer support if you need a phone.
For most enVie customers, porting to another Verizon MVNO or to Verizon Prepaid is probably a better option than switching to H2O. Coverage will be the same and a phone change shouldn't be needed. Best Cellular, a MVNO that offers service on all four networks, including Verizon, is running a promotion for enVie customers. Anyone porting from enVie to Best will get their third month of service for free. Best Cellular is also offering a free SIMs with free shipping to porting EnVie customers. For more information see this Best Cellular blog post; enVie Mobile Customers Porting to Best Cellular Get a Free Month of Service. Best Cellular plans start at $15 per month.
H2O launched enVie in October of 2014. enVie's plans were competitive at first but they failed to keep up as other Verizon MVNOs like Boom Mobile and TracFone's Total Wireless introduced plans with better value.
Why H2O is shutting enVie down is the real question. "Carrier issues" is often a euphemism for "we're broke and can't pay our carrier partner's bills", but that seems unlikely in this case. H2O is a subsidiary of KDDI, which is Japan's second largest mobile operator. KDDI has been profitable every quarter for the last ten years and currently has $6.7 billion in working capital, so it's obviously not broke.
There does seem to be something negative going on in Verizon MVNO land. PagePlus, one of TracFone's Verizon MVNOs, is telling many of its customers that their phones are no longer compatible with the Verizon network and could be disconnected as soon as April 1st. According to the owner of another Verizon MVNO, what's happening is that Verizon is planing to block "ineligible devices" on any MVNO from connecting to their network by sometime in May. I heard today from another industry insider that the ineligible devices that Verizon will be blocking include grandfathered "flashed" non-Verizon phones, blacklisted (as lost or stolen or for non-payment) phones that somehow were not detected until now and Verizon Prepaid phones that have not meet their requirement to be used on Verizon Prepaid for a specified period of time before they can be put on a MVNO. Maybe H2O didn't want to have to deal with all the angry customers that Verizon will be cutting off and decided to cut Verizon off instead. But regardless on the reasons, enVie is going away and its customers will be forced to switch to H2O or another provider.