Wireless carrier contracts are just a way of life. Well, they used to be until T-Mobile rebranded itself as the unCarrier by getting rid of two-year contracts entirely. This led to some consumers demanding that Verizon do the same, and those consumers now number in the thousands.
A petition on Change.org asking Verizon to drop contracts has reached over 94,000 signatures. Its next milestone will be to reach 150,000 signatures, but just reaching 100,000 signatures should send a strong signal to the higher ups at Verizon that its consumer base wants a system where they're not tied down to expensive contracts for two years, but are rather allowed to come and go as they please.
The movement definitely has support, but the hard part is convincing Verizon to do away with its expensive, and highly lucrative, contracts. Thankfully, the company at least seems willing to do so as its CEO, Lowell McAdam, said earlier this month that he would be ok with following T-Mobile's lead into canceling contracts if there was enough consumer demand.
If Verizon did follow T-Mobile's lead, it's not like contracts would just magically disappear. They would replaced with what T-Mobile calls the "Simple Choice" plan which essentially replaces the contract with small monthly payments. The smartphone is still subsidized and you will still pay the same for data as you did before. The only difference is that you can leave the carrier at any time. Granted, you will have to pay the balance left on the phone if it's not completely paid off.
Still, supporters say Verizon adopting a T-Mobile-like contract-less plan would be good for consumers on all carriers, not just Verizon and T-Mobile. With the backing of a major carrier like Verizon, other carriers like AT&T and Sprint would have no choice but to adopt a no contract policy as well. It could also possibly lead to all the wireless carriers agreeing on phone unlocking, an issue that the government hasn't had much luck in regulating.[h/t: Wireless Week]