A small library that lends out mobile hotspots is facing a tough budget decision because one of its borrowers accidentally ran up $880 in roaming fees, and Verizon refuses to waive or reduce the charges. The library has an “unlimited” data plan for the hotspots, but Verizon says it has to pay the $880 to cover less than half a gigabyte of data usage that happened across the border with Canada.
Tully Free Library in Tully, New York, a town of fewer than 3,000 people, lends out three Verizon hotspots to a rural population that has limited Internet access. The library started the hotspot-lending program with a grant from the Central New York Library Resources Council, which paid the bill for two years. Crucially, the service plan with Verizon blocked international roaming so that library borrowers wouldn’t rack up unintentional charges if they happened to cross the Canadian border.
But when the grant ran out, Tully Free Library had to get a new contract and service plan, and the organization began paying the bill itself. The new plan seemed to be identical to the old one, but it enabled international roaming.