Verizon Wireless has released the details of its recent move to drop some customers in rural Maine from its wireless communications and data service.

Verizon sent letters to 213 Maine customers notifying them that it would no longer provide service to them after Oct. 17, company spokesman David Weissmann said late Thursday. Those customers use a total of 455 mobile phone lines, he said.

“These customers live outside of areas where Verizon operates our own network and many of these lines use a substantial amount of data while roaming on other providers’ networks,” Weissmann said via email. “The roaming costs generated by these lines exceed what these consumers pay us each month.”

People who live within the area where Verizon operates its own network are not affected by the decision, he said.

Weissmann said the company “sent these notices in advance so customers have plenty of time to choose another wireless provider.” Other options in the area include US Cellular and AT&T, he said.

Nationally, Verizon sent similar notices of termination to 8,500 rural customers in 13 states, Weissmann said. The customers have a combined 19,000 phone lines and all use a significant amount of data while roaming, he said.

On Tuesday, a Portland-based company that operates a wireless network in Washington County said it was “blindsided” by the news that Verizon would be dropping wireless customers in the area. Wireless Partners owns the network through which the terminated Verizon customers access their 4G LTE broadband wireless service.

“Wireless Partners built, owns, operates and is expanding a Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network in Down East Maine,” Wireless Partners CEO Bob Parsloe said in a written statement. “Wireless Partners was not given advance warning that Verizon Wireless was planning to restrict new customers nor terminate existing customers. We were only made aware of this development from concerned Verizon Wireless customers who were in receipt of the cancellation notification.”

Parsloe noted that Verizon did approach Wireless Partners about reducing the “contractually agreed” cost of using its network, but he said the mobile communications giant never indicated that it would drop customers who roam on the Wireless Partners network.

He said Wireless Partners “will exhaust every effort to cause Verizon Wireless to rethink this extremely consequential decision.”

“We are hopeful that a resolution is achievable and that this critical infrastructure will remain in service,” Parsloe said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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