So what Verizon was calling “unlimited lightning fast 4G” is not exactly so unlimited anymore. The wireless carrier is now throttling the top 5% of their data subscribers based on usage.
That is, any Verizon smart-phone user who uses an “extraordinary amount of data” will see a slowdown in their data-transfer speeds for the remainder of the month and the next billing cycle”. Yikes. And we thought Verizon was going to compete with “those other carriers” who offer limited data plans.
To add fuel to the fire, Verizon did not announce this to their millions of subscribers via press release, email or text message. Instead, the news ended up being leaked by a blogger who stumbled across a well-hidden PDF disclaimer on Verizon’s website.
Here is the notice explaining throttling straight from Verizon’s website: (With some of our own editorial comments)
Important Information about Verizon
As part of our continuing efforts to provide the best experience to our more than 94 million customers, Verizon Wireless is introducing two new network management practices.
The best experience is to throttle your customers? Let’s read on…
We are implementing optimization and transcoding technologies in our network to transmit data files in a more efficient manner to allow available network capacity to benefit the greatest number of users. These techniques include caching less data, using less capacity, and sizing the video more appropriately for the device. The optimization process is agnostic to the content itself and to the website that provides it. While we invest much effort to avoid changing text, image, and video files in the compression process and while any change to the file is likely to be indiscernible, the optimization process may minimally impact the appearance of the file as displayed on your device. For a further, more detailed explanation of these techniques, please visit www.verizonwireless.com/vzwoptimization
If you subscribe to a Data Plan or Feature on February 3, 2011 or after, the following applies:
Verizon Wireless strives to provide customers the best experience when using our network, a shared resource among tens of millions of customers. To help achieve this, if you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5% of Verizon Wireless data users we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycles to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand.
Top 5%, eh? What is this exact number? How do you know if you qualify?
Even moreso, is there any transparent monitoring in place to make sure Verizon isn’t simply throttling everyone’s data?
Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95% of data customers aren’t negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users.
So not only is Verizon penalizing for the month in question, but they are also penalizing for the “immediately following billing cycles“.
How many is a cycleS? Apparently, I am penalized in subsequent monthS for past transgressions this month. What one needs to realize is that shortly with 4G, many of those current 95% will move into that dreaded 5% and be throttled along with the rest of us.
Brian Chen makes a great point in his post on Gadget Lab, “And here we thought Verizon’s network technology was better-prepared than AT&T to handle a big crowd of iPhone customers. While our initial tests showed that Verizon was better at making and holding phone calls, its data speeds are slower than AT&T’s. The company must be worried about the effects of an influx of iPhone customers — otherwise, why would it throttle bandwidth like this?”
“We’ve been working on this for a very long time,” John Stratton, Verizon’s CEO, said during the Verizon iPhone press conference last month. “We expect unprecedented demand, bigger than anything we’ve ever seen before. We feel good about being able to handle it.”
Working on what for a very long time? A plan to handle a flood of new data-heavy customers by slowing everybody down? . It’s a great post, be sure to check it out.
The Verizon iPhone is appealing, but some throttled users will be less starry-eyed when they get error messages and timeouts because they have been nicely escorted off the fast bus. In their defense, Verizon states this is only going to happen to 5% of its heaviest data users (so not a big number of users), but not in their defense, this 5% is likely to be some of their best and most loyal customers to whom they are giving a dose of bad profit reality. If it really only is 5% is this really a problem? Not yet, but it soon will be as Verizon runs out of pipe and the 95% quickly fills into the 5% of throttles.