Back in February, Verizon notified some of its MVNO business partners that it would no longer allow the activation of 3G and non-VoLTE LTE devices after June 30, 2018. Today, NWIDA, the National Wireless Independent Dealer Association, reported that the deadline has been extended until December 31, 2018. NWIDA says that Expo Mobile and two other unnamed Verizon MVNOs received emails from Verizon announcing the delay.
It's not known if the extension also applies to Verizon Prepaid and postpaid. In fact it looks like it doesn't, at least for non-LTE devices. Verizon's list of approved non-Verizon devices still has a big banner at the top of the page reading "Effective July 1st, 2018, Verizon will no longer accept uploads or activations for any CDMA-only MEID/ESN on our network." (see image above).
The reason to block activation on 3G and non-VoLTE devices is simple. Verizon is planing to shut down its 2G and 3G networks December 31, 2019 and offer only LTE service after that date. VoLTE is required for making calls over LTE. For a smooth transition, Verizon needs to get as many of its customers as possible on VoLTE capable LTE phones before the end of 2019.
What this change means for users is that they will still be able to activate non-LTE and non-VoLTE phones on Verizon MVNOs until the end of this year. However, when Verizon shuts down its 2G and 3G networks at the end of 2019, 3G phones will become useless and non-VoLTE LTE phones will no longer be able to make or receive calls.
I feel that Verizon is badly bungling the transition to LTE-only for MVNOs and their customers. For one thing Verizon has not even enabled VoLTE for most of its MVNOs, making it difficult to verify it a given phone supports VoLTE. For another, it's very hard for end users to determine if a phone supports VoLTE on Verizon. Verizon has not published a list of VoLTE supported phones. The only list I've found (on Verizon MVNO Boom Mobile's site) doesn't seem to have been updated in over a year. I think that any phone that Verizon currently lists here as available to postpaid customers as well as the phones on Verizon's list of approved non-Verizon devices are probably VoLTE capable. Why can't Verizon communicate clearly which of its phones are VoLTE capable?