verizon wireless
July 27, 2014

Verizon Wireless Reportedly Set To Begin Throttling Unlimited 4G LTE Customers

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Bad news for Verizon Wireless customers who still subscribe to unlimited data plans, as the company announced on Friday that some of those individuals could start experiencing slower speeds beginning in October.

Established three years ago, Verizon’s “network optimization policy” currently limits the data speeds of the heaviest 3G data users, the company said in a statement. On October 1, this policy will be extended to unlimited 4G LTE customers who rank in the top five percent of data users, meaning that they will experience slower speeds when using certain applications.

Among the activities that could slow down connection speeds are the viewing of high-definition streaming video or playing real-time online gaming, Verizon explained. Transfer rates should only be throttled when users attempt to connect to a cell site experiencing heavy demand at that time, the company added. The restrictions do not apply to businesses or government organizations that have signed a major account agreement.

Chris Welch of The Verge explained that the new policy will apply to 4G LTE smartphone customers on unlimited data plans whose usage is more than the five percent threshold (which, as of March, would be anyone using 4.7GB in a single month). In addition, only month-to-month customers will be affected, not those under a current contract.

“This is one situation where being under contract is a good thing,” Welch said. “Of course, extending an unlimited plan isn't supposed to be technically possible anymore. But where there's a will there's a way, and users have occasionally discovered loopholes that allow the plans to be renewed for another two years.”

“So Verizon seems confident that a majority of users won't notice problems. But if you're one of those crazy people using an unlimited Verizon data plan as a substitute for cable internet – yes those people exist, and Comcast loves them – it may be time to start researching alternatives,” he added. “Anyone still holding onto unlimited data at this point is doing so for a reason. Starting in October, you'll need to again weigh whether it's worth the cost.”

Verizon’s announcement comes as more and more wireless service providers attempt to sway subscribers onto tiered usage plans, which require customers to pay for individual data packages, Reuters reporter Marina Lopes explained. The move is Verizon’s attempt to ensure that most users experience roughly the same data transfer speeds, UberGizmo’s Tyler Lee added.

“We understand that our customers rely on their smartphones and tablets every day,” Mike Haberman, vice president for technology at Verizon Wireless, said of the new policy. “Our network optimization policy provides the best path to ensure a continued great wireless experience for all of our customers on the best and largest wireless network in the US.”

So just how many people still subscribe to Verizon’s unlimited data plans? BGR writer Zach Epstein wrote on Friday that market research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reported that 22 percent of the company’s unlimited data plans as of the end of the second quarter. However, a Verizon Wireless spokesperson contacted Epstein via email, claiming that the figure is inaccurate and that the percentage is actually lower than that.

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