What Is On Peak & Off Peak for Verizon?

By Dan Stone

"Off Peak" means the network is running on a light load.
i Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Verizon Wireless uses the terms "On Peak" and "Off Peak" to describe the tendency of large numbers of people to use the cellular network at a time. The term "On Peak" means that a significant amount of people are using the network and "Off Peak" means the network is running on a light load. Verizon doesn't count "Off Peak" calling towards your monthly minutes in your plan.

Time of Day

Verizon defines the times for "On Peak" and "Off Peak" hours differently by town. You have to check your contract or service brochure to determine your "Peak" hours. Typically, Verizon defines the "On Peak" hours as 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and "Off Peak" hours as 9:01 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. Additionally, your plan my include all-day Saturday and Sunday as "Off Peak" hours.

Chargeable and Nonchargeable Calls

The amount of minutes you pay for in your cellular service plan are considered your "On Peak" minutes. Because of how Verizon's billing system works, there are many other types of calls you can make that will not count toward your "On Peak" minutes even when made during "On Peak" hours.

Network Usage

The idea of using the "Peak" hours concept is used to detour people from unnecessarily using their phones during "On Peak" hours. People generally try to avoid overage charges and will limit their "On Peak" usage depending on how many monthly minutes they have. Verizon's cellular network, like other carries, gets overloaded if too many people use it at the same time. There are more activated phone lines than the network can handle at any given time. For example, a local section of the network may be able to support 1,000 calls at a given time and have 4,000 people with activated phone lines who live in the area. It is unlikely that more than 1,000 of those people will use the network at once. Additionally, those people are not tied to the local network and may move to other parts of the network throughout the day and other people might come into the local network's area throughout the day, making it more difficult to determine how much network capacity is needed in an area.

Calling for "Off Peak" Rates During "On Peak" Hours

Depending on your calling plan, you may get free "Mobile-to-Mobile" calling to other Verizon customers. That means that if you call another Verizon customer at noon on a Wednesday, which is always considered an "On Peak" time, your call time will not deduct from your "On Peak" minutes. While this call is not considered "Off Peak," it is treated like one from a billing perspective. If you have multiple lines in your plan, all calls between those phones are free if you have free "Mobile to Mobile." Additionally, some mobile plans include "Friends and Family" calling. Under the "Friends and Family" plan you can select multiple numbers from non-Verizon customers that you will not be charged for calling. "Friends and Family" minutes are also treated like "Off Peak" minutes and don't take away from "On Peak" minutes.