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Verizon Says It Won’t Increase Fees on Education App After All

The telecom company responded to criticism from teachers and parents saying it will waive the new text message fees for this specific use.

by Kaleigh Rogers
Jan 17 2019, 3:33pm

Image: Mike Mozart/Flickr

Verizon says it is going to waive its new text message fees for a popular education app, after teachers and parents spoke out. However, the app company is skeptical that the telecom giant will follow through.

As Motherboard reported Monday, educators have been calling Verizon out on Twitter after they learned that Remind—a communication app used by teachers, parents, and students—would no longer offer text message alerts to Verizon users who have the free version of the app, due to an increase in fees.

Beginning February 1, Verizon is introducing a new fee on app-to-phone messages in an effort to curb mass spam texts. Remind said this would make text messages too expensive to send on free accounts, and that it would be disabling this function for those users once the fees came into effect. The text messages are used to contact students and parents directly, particularly if they don’t have the Remind app, a smartphone, or even a data plan.

On Wednesday, Verizon released a statement saying it would waive the fee for Twilio, the company that facilitates the texts for Remind, for this specific use case.

“To ensure [Remind] can continue offering this service in an economically reasonable manner, we will not charge for delivering these messages,” the statement, sent to Motherboard via email, read. “In return, we call on Remind and its text messaging provider Twilio to commit that they won’t disrupt service or charge schools or families for those free services.”

Remind, however, responded with a statement of its own, explaining that it has not signed any kind of agreement with Verizon but will be “thrilled” to continue its service once it’s assured a deal is in place.

“It's reassuring to hear that Verizon doesn't want to drive profits on the backs of students, families, and educators,” the statement, sent to Motherboard via email, read. “When we’re assured that a long-term deal is in place to guarantee that all the educators, parents and students currently using our free service can use SMS on the Verizon network without fees, we will be thrilled to continue our service without disruption.”

At this point, both companies seem to have the same goal in mind, but haven’t yet agreed on how to get there.