More Details on Verizon's Smartphone $350 Early Termination Policy

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As you probably heard, Verizon Wireless is imposing a pretty nasty $350 early termination fee on its more impressive phones. It's confirmed, and starts Sunday, so you might want to buy your phone now if possible.

The good news, if there is any, is that the early termination fee only applies to early termination. Surprised you, there, didn't it? The bad news is, what Mark said about the ditch fee being $110 in the 23rd month is true. And pretty much anything you'd want to buy from Verizon these days—not just Droids and BlackBerrys but netbooks too—are locked into this new fee.

Verizon is pretty clear that this is about recouping the cost of the subsidy; a gadget lands on the "advanced" list when it has a combination of features that "drive up the cost." Only wireless modems and dumbphones (below referred to as feature phones) appear to be exempt. Here are the details from a spokesman:

The higher tier of early termination fee applies to a device category that generally includes smartphones, netbooks and other advanced devices purchased at a subsidized price under contract. Please remember, feature phones still carry a $175 early termination fee when purchased at a subsidized price with a new customer agreement.

Advanced devices include a combination of advanced capabilities that combined drive up the cost of the device, including premium HTML browser; high-resolution MP camera with optical zoom; dual processor chipsets; WiFi; very high-resolution displays, and/or operating systems such as BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm, or Android. The category also includes netbooks. (Modems will still carry a $175 ETF.)

We are informing customers at the point of purchase/contract renewal—whether on line, in person or over the phone. On Sunday, when the new EFT takes effect, we will post the list of advanced devices.

By the way, it is important to note that this change has no impact on customers with previously signed contracts, and as a practical matter has no impact on the majority of customers who choose to complete the terms of their contracts.

Remember, if you sign a long-term contract and complete it, there's no early termination fee. In addition, customers always have the option of buying any device at full retail without an early termination fee.