Huge corporations are now waking up to the financial potential of Virtual Private Networks. Along with the arrival of Google’s Outline VPN back in 2018, Verizon has also launched its own privacy software. True, it doesn’t have the most imaginative name – Safe Wi-Fi VPN. But could this be the accessible, trustworthy VPN everyday users have been looking for?
Let’s learn more about where Safe Wi-Fi VPN stands in the online security world.
The story behind Verizon’s Safe Wi-Fi VPN
With more people working remotely, Verizon’s business clients started to demand tools to make remote working safer. With the danger of phishing and general data leakages rising, the communications giant saw a huge opening and tasked its labs to come up with a lightweight VPN targeted at professionals and mobile users.
Verizon launched their privacy client in July 2018, as a tool aimed exclusively at existing Verizon customers. It was also designed purely for use with Android and iOS devices, excluding a bunch of remote workers that use a laptop on a daily basis. Having in mind that Safe Wi-Fi VPN has been around for over a year now, it’s fair to ask whether Verizon has succeeded.
Verizon’s Safe Wi-Fi VPN features
Safe Wi-Fi has some interesting and useful features:
- Easy-to-use app
- Available to most Verizon Wireless customers. This includes the new Verizon Plan, Mix and match unlimited, The Just Kids plan, most MORE Everything, Nationwide, Mobile broadband, and International plans and features.
- Not available for MORE Everything 250 MB and non-nationwide plans, prepaid, business, and corporate accounts, and devices with PTT enabled.
- 128-bit AES encryption
- Unknown protocol
- 10 simultaneous connections. This would be enough for many small businesses, such as realtors, where staff are often away from the office and have to rely on public connections.
- 30-day free trial
- No-logs policy
- Servers. There’s no count and no location list – Verizon only states that McAffee manages them.
Naturally, this leaves many questions to seasoned VPN users when it comes to security, privacy, and performance of Safe Wi-Fi. That’s why it’s crucial to point out what this quirky service (still) lacks:
- No way to choose your server or its location
- No way to choose your encryption or protocol
- No kill switch
While the lacking list is much shorter, these elements are key for any decent, not to say good VPN tool. And if that wasn’t enough, there are certain privacy concerns we’ll discuss in the next chapter.
Verizon’s Safe Wi-Fi VPN privacy concerns
To start, we have a situation where the ISP in Verizon is offering a VPN of its own, which should also shield the user from the ISP. Even though Verizon claims a no-logs policy, let’s not forget that this same company was unmasked as routinely collecting user data on behalf of the NSA.
Finally, when it comes to blocking ad tracking, in early October 2018, Verizon removed the ability to block tracking ads from the VPN. That was one of the main features initially marketed by Verizon. The company didn’t offer much explanation for this move, but it seems like they were pressured into removing the adblocker by app marketplaces which rely on ads to sell their products.
Safe Wi-Fi VPN price
If Verizon’s Safe Wi-Fi was a free service, we could forgive some of its glaring issues. Unfortunately, the price is $3.99/month, which is around the cheaper end of the scale for high-quality VPNs. Sadly, Safe Wi-Fi is not a high-quality VPN by any means.
Safe Wi-Fi app ratings
You can begin your VPN subscription easily using the My Verizon app, via desktops or smartphones, and the app itself can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store. Unfortunately, what you’ll see in any of these stores put another nail into the Safe Wi-Fi coffin.
Safe Wi-Fi on Google Play
Safe Wi-Fi on the App Store
The Android version, downloaded 100,000+ times only, has a rating of 3.2, while Apple users report an appalling 2.3 stars. Reading the comments doesn’t give much hope either. And if that wasn’t enough, the last version update was in November 2018, which probably marks the time when Verizon’s brass lost all faith in their creation.
The future of Verizon’s Safe Wi-Fi
As the name suggests, Safe Wi-Fi VPN was pitched to people using unsafe wi-fi networks, not to home users. And it seems to target people who spend a lot of time working in public places. At least 3.9 million US staff work from home every day, including freelancers and students. So it’s a big market.
The problem is that many people in that demographic are tech-savvy and know about VPNs, online ads, and ISP tracking. Given the flaws described above, it’s unlikely that many new customers will flock to Verizon’s VPN any time soon.