Customers have 30 days to choose one of three options before they lose access to their accounts: Head over to AOL, transfer their email to another provider or leave their accounts alone to be deleted.
Verizon users who choose the AOL option will still be able to keep their existing addresses, which will carry the “verizon.net” ending. They will, however, have to let Verizon know that they want to hang on to their addresses and log in through AOL's system from now on, the email said.
Why the change? According to an information page on Verizon's website, the firm said it realized there are “more capable email platforms out there” — including AOL Mail, which has been owned by Verizon since 2015.
Migrating from Verizon to AOL will be easy. Users interested in keeping their email addresses don't have to do much. Verizon will migrate the contacts, calendars, email and other information to AOL for them.
For those who aren't interested in moving to AOL, things get a little more complicated.
According to Verizon's guide page, users interested in migrating their accounts elsewhere should follow the instructions for importing mail and other information provided by whatever email provider they choose.
After that, they can leave their Verizon accounts alone; the company will erase data from those accounts after six months of inactivity, said Verizon spokesman Raymond McConville. The company estimates that 2.3 million of its 4.5 million email accounts are active — meaning they have been used in the past 30 days.
AOL reported a major breach of its email in 2014, which affected 2 percent of its customers, an estimated 500,000 users. AOL did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how it has improved its security since the breach. But the company learned from its mistakes, said John Levine, an email infrastructure consultant and author of “The Internet for Dummies.”
AOL's mail program may not have a modern aesthetic, he said, but consumers can consider its capabilities and security on par with major competitors such as Outlook and Gmail. “If I were a Verizon user, going to AOL might be a pain,” he said. “But, functionally, it will be fine.”
An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Verizon users would have to change their email addresses if they switch Internet service providers. This version has been corrected.