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"Not surprisingly, many of these heaviest users of the network are on unlimited data plans." -- Verizon Wireless' Kathleen Grillo

We reported two weeks ago that Verizon Wireless will begin throttling users still on unlimited data plans if they are among the top five percent of data hogs within a given billing cycle. It should be noted that Verizon Wireless doesn’t like to label what it’s doing as throttling; it prefers the term “Network Optimization.”
 
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week expressed his concerns over Verizon Wireless’ behavior, stating in a letter to CEO Daniel S. Mead:
 
It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its "network management" on distinctions among its customers' data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology… I know of no past Commission statement that would treat as "reasonable network management" a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for "unlimited" service.
 
Mead responded to Wheeler's letter in a meeting with reporters, stating, "We were very surprised to receive that letter. There were many parts that were incorrect. We have great respect for the FCC, but I'm not sure the chairman understood what we're doing exactly."


Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel S. Mead [Image Source: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters]
 
However, Kathleen Grillo, Verizon Wireless’ senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs, penned an official response to Wheeler (dated August 1) explaining the company’s rationale for throttling users. Grillo reiterated that unlike competing carriers that throttle data speeds for the remainder of the billing cycle, Verizon Wireless’ solution will reinstate “full” download speeds once a user leaves a congested cell site.
 
"Our practice is a measured and fair step to ensure that this small group of customers do not disadvantage all others in the sharing of network resources during times of high demand,” said Grillo in the letter.

 
Verizon Wireless can’t keep its all-you-can-eat buffet fully stocked and it sees no other way of curbing the appetites of its unlimited customers. "Unlike subscribers on usage-based plans, they have no incentive not to do so during times of unusually high demand," Grillo continued.
 
In the letter, Grillo also commented that other carriers have similar, "less tailored" policies that haven’t drawn nearly the same scrutiny as its Network Optimization plan, which explains Mead’s surprise by the reaction from the FCC.
 
Verizon Wireless customers on unlimited LTE plans will be subject to Network Optimization starting on October 1.

Source: The Wall Street Journal



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Sounds Reasonable
By titanmiller on 8/5/2014 12:42:19 PM , Rating: 3
It sounds reasonable to me for the top 5% to be throttled first during times of high demand. However, if the cell site has capacity, they should be returned to unthrottled usage.

If, for example, someone is on a remote cell site that is always at a very low utilization, they should be fully able to saturate their connection 24/7 since the marginal cost to the wireless provider is very near zero.

First and foremost, the provider should expand capacity, but if that is unfeasable, then a fair use policy that limits bandwidth...temporarily, sounds reasonable.




RE: Sounds Reasonable
By bah12 on 8/5/2014 1:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, the pipe should be split between all users on it at the moment to ensure balance. We need to stop this nonsense that high usage users costs them money, as you said it is marginal at best.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By Iridium130m on 8/5/2014 1:29:39 PM , Rating: 2
agreed, logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. --Spock

This is actually good policy...big data transfers with large packet sizes can starve small packets from making through...

in other words, a user watching HD video stream using many large packets can make it very difficult for somebody to browse or update email which may use many small packets. Networking 101. Throttling the large packet flood by forcibly spacing those packets out to make room for the smaller packets to come in makes sense as a normal congestion management when there is congestion. Hence the needs of the many statement...

That said, if the big data consumer is simply checking email, or other small packet activities, i don't think targeting them for throttling makes sense since that doesn't benefit the many. If Verizon is throttling these users to this extent, then yes, Shame on them.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By Schrag4 on 8/5/2014 1:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Exactly, the pipe should be split between all users on it at the moment to ensure balance.


What? The article is explaining how the pipe isn't split equally between all users during high usage. And you're agreeing with the OP when he's saying he agrees with the policy that the pipe shouldn't be split equally among all users?

Nobody should be talking about how top 5% deserve to get occasionally throttled. What everyone should be talking about is the fact that Verizon is selling something they cannot provide. It seems to me that they need to change their data plans and price structure so that there are fewer truly unlimited users (in other words they need to charge them more). That could mean adding more, larger data plans. Yes, high-usage customers would pay more, but then Verizon could pay for the infrastructure for the services that they're selling. That would be unpopular, though, so I guess they should continue to sell service they can't provide?


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By tdktank59 on 8/5/2014 3:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
So the unlimited data plans no longer exist with verizon. These plans were only available when they first rolled their LTE service out and all these plans have been grandfathered in and are now starting to hurt them.

I agree they sold unlimited data. Not "unlimited" data as most of the other carriers are doing these days. However I still feel that fair usage is needed since everyone is sharing the network. That being said if there is no one using it (say 3am in the morning) then fuck it let them go full blast. But during peak times hell yeah QOS the network to provide a better experience for the 95% of customers.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By tdktank59 on 8/5/2014 3:52:32 PM , Rating: 3
Also note unlimited data does not mean you get it 100% of the speed. Since you are not paying for a pipe they can throttle all they want, they just can't shut you off otherwise they are in breach of the unlimited clause.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By funyun on 8/5/2014 1:03:25 PM , Rating: 5
Why is it reasonable?

The high crime I am committing in VZW's eyes is that I watch Youtube on my lunch break. Which ostensibly is what everyone else is doing, hence the high network load.

No, the real crime in their eyes is that I still have an 'unlimited' data plan, which they are still selling to me.

The carriers push cloud storage, 1080p and now 4k screens, and high speed data, while at the same time offering their customers less data. How is the supposed to work in the first place?


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By amanojaku on 8/5/2014 1:21:18 PM , Rating: 2
These wireless carries are amateurs:

I'm selling a wireless data plan that offers 0 bytes of data transfer at infinite bandwidth/sec for the low price of all of your money.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By reconize on 8/5/2014 1:06:27 PM , Rating: 5
I think this is BS. What makes one's money/services more important than the next guy's? If you are on a 10GB plan and I am on Unlimited we both pay for what we signed up for. Who cares what I use those services for; that is what VZW and I agreed to when I signed the contract.

Let's put this in another way. Say we both go to the DMV to register our cars, same cars. They charge us both $100 for the fee. I opt for the unlimited mileage on the roads where you go with the 5,000 miles a year plan. We both have paid our money for the use of the roads. Now when I go over an imaginary 5K miles point a cop stops me and says, Sir your driving too much so we are going to mandate you now drive no faster than 20 mph, to try to cut you down on your unlimited mileage plan you paid for. It's not fair to the other drivers.

I fail to see the logic in the argument. If they want to throttle people then they should throttle everyone and inform them that they are doing so.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/5/2014 1:39:29 PM , Rating: 3
Your post just made me think of something. Say you have a 10GB plan, and I have an unlimited plan...

-- You've used 5GB of data on an overloaded cell site and you can still download/stream/whatever to your heart's content without throttling.

-- I, on an unlimited plan, would be throttled before I have even crossed the 5GB threshold (Verizon says the cutoff is 4.7GB)

Unless I'm missing something, that doesn't seem very fair at all.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By HoosierEngineer5 on 8/5/2014 1:57:44 PM , Rating: 2
Bingo.

Just because the unlimited guy downloaded 100 GB at 3:00 AM yesterday doesn't mean he should be throttled at noon today.

Probaby, its the people who have HIGH SPEED connections who are causing the congestion at high usage times. They should be throttled. Except, they are paying extra for a fast lane.

So, if the ISP has oversubscribed his capacity, do we split the throttling by the relative speeds you are paying for?

The whole argument seems to be trying to get internet users to blame each other, rather than the ISP who refuses to upgrade the equipment. Hasn't anybody ever explained Moor's law to them?


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By icrf on 8/5/2014 4:21:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just because the unlimited guy downloaded 100 GB at 3:00 AM yesterday doesn't mean he should be throttled at noon today.

That's the real kicker. Because lots of data was used previously isn't a reason to throttle someone using not much data right now. I'm fine with network management that throttles high data users if they're using lots of data on a cell while it's overloaded. What plan that user is on and if they've paid out their contract and whether or not they downloaded a whole bunch of stuff previous to that is completely and utterly irrelevant to the problem of relieving congestion at a busy site while it's busy. I have read a lot about this and haven't seen anything that attempts to rationalize or explain that.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By titanmiller on 8/5/2014 8:35:46 PM , Rating: 2
This is what satellite internet companies do. Most offer true unlimited data between something like midnight and 5AM...off peak times. They then offer their plans for 10GB, 20GB, 30GB, etc. during normal hours. Basic QOS that doesn't piss everyone off.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By StevoLincolnite on 8/5/2014 6:22:03 PM , Rating: 1
If you pay for "Unlimited" that's what you should get, no?

Otherwise it falls into the "False advertising" bracket doesn't it?

If the network can't handle the load, then they should upgrade the network or stop providing unlimited plans, rather than blaming the consumer.

They're essentially selling a product they can't supply in this case.

Here in Aus we don't have unlimited mobile data, it's capped, sometimes you need to pay more to download more, other-times it's reduced to 256k/128k/64k depending on the provider so you can still do emails and light web browse and it's advertised as such.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By NellyFromMA on 8/5/2014 1:40:49 PM , Rating: 3
If it is practiced as described (this time) then its a great emergency effort to ensure QoS.

However, its really hard to leave VZW up to deciding whether or not they are congested and trust them seeing as how with the whole Netflix controversy, they are crying that they are congested and yet are being proven completely false via the VPN incident.

It's hard to trust VZW in good faith here when it hasn't even been 60 days since they've had their last lies of congestion busted.


RE: Sounds Reasonable
By TheJian on 8/7/2014 8:24:57 AM , Rating: 2
The real problem is THEY have NO incentive to expand their network's bandwidth. As long as they can throttle us they'll wait forever to grow bandwidth. However if the govt mandates no throttling, they'll have to FINALLY do their dang job and INVEST in their infrastructure like they've all been claiming they'd do for how long? The top cable/phone companies can throw around 40B+ to try to buy each other, but none of them seem to have the 10-20B it would cost to upgrade America...ROFLMAO.

This is one place the Govt should step in and say you must go unlimited for all plans in the next 2yrs. If news servers can go $8 or less a month unlimited all month at 50-100mbps PEGGED (thats Terabytes of data), what the heck is wrong with USA Phone/Cable companies? What's the point of having the latest modem tech in your phone if you tap out your 2GB limit in 1/2 a 720p movie? If they don't like this plan, then the Govt needs to tell them, you can buy company X for $40B as soon as you spend that much on your network and again, go unlimited ;) Until then, there will be ZERO mergers in phone/cable companies and ANYONE can now start a business without restrictions to compete in YOUR areas :) Watch how fast they build those networks then...LOL

The top 5% of users would not be a problem if they built up their networks instead of milking the world and complaining about them, while at the same time trying to buy the competition for $40B+. I hope google/apple/msft etc start putting up cell towers to compete, or huge wifi networks that just allow you to connect to dial from anywhere on IP networks. They need some competition, or a govt push or we'll be sucking wind forever.

But of course in good ole usa, that's a pipe dream as the govt doesn't work for us, they work for lobbyists/companies who pay them off :(


What?
By Flunk on 8/5/2014 11:14:54 AM , Rating: 4
People use a lot of data choose unlimited plans? That's so surprising!

Wait, no it isn't. You might as well just say something like "The sky is blue". If you limit these customers they'll just jump to a different provider.

If it's costing you too much to service these guys jack up the price on the unlimited data plans and quit whining.




RE: What?
By OnyxNite on 8/5/2014 11:26:53 AM , Rating: 2
They can't "jack up the price on the unlimited data plans" because they don't offer them anymore. Those of us with unlimited plans are out of contract and are locked in with the current price/data unless/until we sign a new contract with them or leave. They can just stop offering the grandfathered plans in which case I can pretty much guarantee everyone who has them (even the ones that use little data) will move to another carrier because taking away someones existing plan and trying to force them into another doesn't exactly generate good will. So they'd be losing the bulk of the 95% of unlimited data users who don't use tons of data just to resolve the issue with the 5% who do use too much.


RE: What?
By Dr of crap on 8/5/2014 12:13:13 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, so my Sprint unlimited plan is better?
Come on in the waters fine over here.


RE: What?
By drycrust3 on 8/5/2014 4:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
They can't "jack up the price on the unlimited data plans" because they don't offer them anymore.

Why can't Verizon increase the price of Unlimited plans to cover the costs generated by those users? I am sure somewhere in the fine print of your contract is a clause along the lines that Verizon can periodically change the price of your plan. Not being an American, I would be surprised if they don't have a way to increase the price for those on Unlimited plans differently from those on capped plans.
To me the solution is simple: average the cost to the company of all those on Unlimited plans and charge them accordingly. Then there wouldn't be any need to make a fuss about this, users would have a choice: pay and be happy or move to another plan with a cap. The only thing is they should "telegraph" their intentions and not be "too dramatic" in their price increases.
quote:
in which case I can pretty much guarantee everyone who has them (even the ones that use little data) will move to another carrier because taking away someones existing plan and trying to force them into another doesn't exactly generate good will.

They wouldn't force people onto other plans, they simply encourage them to lower the amount they are being charged, especially the "light users". Why should a light user have to pay the cost of your extravagance when they can get the same service from Verizon much cheaper? Also, you overlook the fact that a person on an Unlimited plan moving to another company could well be to Verizon's advantage: their moving means they reduce the cost to Verizon (i.e. increase Verizon's profit margin) and increase their competitors costs (i.e. reduce their profits).

I think the Chairman of the FCC is right, you shouldn't just throttle users on Unlimited plans simply because they are on Unlimited plans, if there is congestion in an area then everyone should be throttled. As you said, Verizon unwisely sold those plans and people bought them.


RE: What?
By OnyxNite on 8/5/2014 4:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not lawyer but as I understand it when you sign a contract you agree to a set price for a set of services. The contract DOES include language that allows them to change that combination BUT they have to give you notice AND give you the option of terminating the contract without having to pay the ETF if they change the terms on you. So by agreeing to the contract you've agreed to those terms. When the contact expires however they can't change anything because you haven't agreed to it, what you agreed to expired. They CAN just cancel your service entirely because they ARE just doing you a favor by continuing service at the existing rate/features but they can't change them because their authority to make changes has expired. You didn't agree to a higher price and you didn't agree to let them make changes beyond the contract. All they can do refuse to offer you service at the current rate/features and then hope you decide to continue service with them under one of their existing plans. Only if you liked one of their existing plans you probably wouldn't be off contract in the first place and if you suddenly cut someones service who has been using it off contract for potentially months they aren't going to be inclined to choose you as a replacement.


RE: What?
By Labotomizer on 8/5/14, Rating: 0
RE: What?
By Dr of crap on 8/5/2014 2:58:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, better service, yet I am NOT throttled on Sprint, so who has better service?


RE: What?
By Labotomizer on 8/5/2014 3:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
I can drive between all the major cities in Texas and never lose LTE. The service is faster and widespread. If you don't move around then perhaps Sprint would be fine. Although if that's the case then why not use your home connection?


What they meant was
By HoosierEngineer5 on 8/5/2014 11:02:14 AM , Rating: 2
UP TO unlimited data (possibly as little as none).

One of these days, they should get serious about providing internet service, seeing as how they are an internet service provider.




RE: What they meant was
By retrospooty on 8/5/2014 11:57:38 AM , Rating: 2
Being that Verizon has become the evil asshats, they wont change anything unless people start to leave. As of now, they are still growing.


RE: What they meant was
By ven1ger on 8/5/2014 5:12:42 PM , Rating: 2
And isn't that part of the problem or the BS from Verizon?

They keep adding people onto the unlimited plan, therefore making it more congested and without upgrading their network but laying the blame on so-called heavy users. First stop taking on more customers then maybe what they are saying will sound more truthful.


RE: What they meant was
By retrospooty on 8/5/2014 5:16:00 PM , Rating: 2
I cant disagree in theory, but the reality is they wont change... It's up you what you buy. I personally wont be giving them any more of my money. That is all I can do. Verizon wont change anything until enough people make that same choice.


Heh!
By villageidiotintern on 8/5/2014 11:03:38 AM , Rating: 5
"We were very surprised to see our customers try to use the services they bought and paid for?" — Verizon Wireless Executive

FIFY




That stache...
By aliasfox on 8/5/2014 11:22:29 AM , Rating: 4
He's a mustache twirl away from being the bad guy in an old western.




By EasyC on 8/5/2014 12:20:40 PM , Rating: 2
There, fixed it for you. I think that's what Verizons goal really is... or that's how it seems, at least.




Stats on congestion
By Salisme on 8/5/2014 4:43:40 PM , Rating: 2
Call me skeptical, but is there date available that confirms cell towers are congested in certain areas? Or are we just taking Verizon's word that they are congested?




By TDMoses on 8/5/2014 6:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
Try something like giving back to customers when they limit their usage during peak hours. It's really that simple. Money talks and makes most people happy. Don't give a service and take it away.




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