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Verizon Wireless won't make any new friends with this latest move to swat down heavy downloaders

When Verizon Wireless announced that the iPhone 4 would be coming to its network, the company made sure to make everyone know that its network was prepared to handle the onslaught of new devices. After all, Verizon Wireless is home to numerous Android devices which themselves tend to be data hungry.

Today, however, we're getting news that Verizon Wireless has plans to keep its network "in check" to ensure that it doesn't run into the same roadblocks as AT&T. Boy Genius Report noticed that the company has posted a new notice on its site [PDF] that targets heavy downloaders: 

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 cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand. 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. 

Unfortunately, there is no indication of what threshold has to be crossed before Verizon Wireless will start throttling your speeds; and there is no indication of how slow your data speeds will be after getting busted by the company.

This new measure is effective starting today for those that sign a new contract or renew a contract.

The data throttling isn't the only change coming to Verizon Wireless. The company also announced that it is incorporating new transcoding technology into its network to help streamline data transfers. You can read more info about this technology here. 

Yesterday, AT&T announced that it would be expanding its tethering data allowance from 2GB to 4GB. This was seen as a move to better align the company with Verizon Wireless' data plans for the iPhone 4.



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umm
By omnicronx on 2/3/2011 1:09:20 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Unfortunately, there is no indication of what threshold has to be crossed before Verizon Wireless will start throttling your speeds;
Clearly there can't be a threshold if its based on the top 5 percent of users. It would change depending on usage throughout your billing cycle.




RE: umm
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/3/2011 1:12:22 PM , Rating: 4
And therein lies the rub. You have no idea how or when you'll get zapped. It will "just happen".

Now if they had come out and said that the top 5% of our users consume over 6GB, then you'd have an idea of what line not to cross.


RE: umm
By omnicronx on 2/3/2011 1:30:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Now if they had come out and said that the top 5% of our users consume over 6GB, then you'd have an idea of what line not to cross.
I would tend to agree, I'm just pointing out it would not be possible to supply that metric with the way they plan on implementing it ;)

On one end it could help if users knew the hard cap, as they would then attempt to stay below it..

On the other-hand, not picking a finite percentage of users could render the plan useless.


RE: umm
By Klober on 2/3/2011 2:36:14 PM , Rating: 5
The problem with only defining it as a percentage of the highest consumers is this:

Feb 3, 2011 - Verizon looks at data usage and limits top 5% of users to 200kbs down for the next 1-2 months.
Feb 10, 2011 - Verizon again looks at data usage and limits top 5% of users (a different top 5% mind you) to 200kbs down for the next 1-2 months.
Feb 17, 2011 - Verizon again looks at data usage and limits top 5% of users (a different top 5% than the first 2 times of course) to 200kbs down for the next 1-2 months.
Feb 24, 2011 - Verizon again looks at data usage and limits top 5% of users (a different top 5% than the first 3 times) to 200kbs down for the next 1-2 months.

Just in these first 4 instances, totaling 3 weeks, Verizon has now blacklisted 20% of their users and stuck them with 200kbs (or whatever arbitrary rate Verizon chooses) for the next 1-2 months. Depending on how often Verizon does this they could have half their users stuck with low download speeds in the time period they have specified.

On the other hand if Verizon specifies a hard limit that has to be reached, along with the top 5%, then you don't have to worry about being one of the (possibly very) many in that top 5% group as long as you limit your usage to something Verizon allows without penalty.


RE: umm
By lowsidex2 on 2/3/2011 6:08:29 PM , Rating: 2
Top 5% of who? The country? The state? The neighborhood?

I realize 5% is 5%, and if they do this on a local basis it won't mean more people than a national basis. I could see myself within reach of the top 5% of my neighbors but not the top 5% nationally.


RE: umm
By someguy123 on 2/4/2011 3:36:18 AM , Rating: 2
It's unlikely that they'll be actively going for the top 5% per week. Considering they're doing this just to maintain current network stability without any large infrastructure updates, they most likely have some threshold of bandwidth use on their overall network that they need to surpass before capping their top five.


RE: umm
By paydirt on 2/4/2011 9:44:10 PM , Rating: 2
That's why what you did is called a "thought experiment". If Verizon were run by a bunch of machines then your experiment would prove to be true, if not then you are just wasting your time.


RE: umm
By Smartless on 2/3/2011 1:40:34 PM , Rating: 3
I can imagine the text message you'd get that every carrier is required to give now.

"You are in the top 5%. Congratulations."

Yay.. wait...


RE: umm
By Jeffk464 on 2/3/2011 2:29:53 PM , Rating: 2
Ah man, they are talking about me. My incredible is my only internet access.


RE: umm
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/3/2011 2:44:00 PM , Rating: 5
Game over man, GAME OVER!


RE: umm
By YashBudini on 2/3/11, Rating: -1
RE: umm
By PhatoseAlpha on 2/3/2011 4:07:23 PM , Rating: 2
It's wireless. If they weren't already out living their real lives, they'd just be on the computer.


RE: umm
By tastyratz on 2/3/2011 4:58:05 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree,

I think the top 5% will be filled with tethering users that exploit their services. The guy who uses his phone on his laptop to watch netflix movies every night before bed and download a few songs during the day might fill that void.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand its not really exploiting because you're using the unlimited services with which you pay for, on the other hand the top 5% of users are probably the top 95% of the network usage.

I could support this kind of throttling and network management if it was responsibly and honestly implemented while remaining restricted. The problem here is that 5% turns to 7%... 10%... 15%... and then a data cap for all.
Greed has no end in sight give them a bite and they will eat the whole box of candy bars.


RE: umm
By ereavis on 2/3/2011 8:11:03 PM , Rating: 2
good call. But this is inevitable. Wired stuff just depends on better hardware to get more bandwidth, wireless is going to depend on higher frequency and smarter encoding, which is much much slower to develop. So if they're throttling the air-rate then it helps the much more real limits they face.

I'm all for rinse and repeat once a month, cuts 10% of the top user base back and fulfills the above. Verizon's been ok about keeping people happy to steal them from AT&T, so there's that going for the stop-the-facism that would occur otherwise.


RE: umm
By Uncle on 2/3/2011 10:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
They don't want you to know, otherwise they wouldn't be able to charge you on overages.


RE: umm
By nafhan on 2/3/2011 2:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
It'd be interesting to know if they are just going to do this, period, or if they are only going to do it if there's network congestion in the area where you're located.
Hopefully the latter, probably the former :(


nice article picture...
By Iridium130m on 2/3/2011 1:04:28 PM , Rating: 1
i think it does truly represent what the lack of net neutrality will do to us and our internet service. We will be strangled and can't do a dang thing about it.




RE: nice article picture...
By mcnabney on 2/3/2011 1:18:01 PM , Rating: 5
You do understand that BY LAW a carrier can only own so much spectrum in any given market.

And you do know that wireless spectrum can only be used to transmit so much data.

So if a wireless company owns as much spectrum as they legally can and that spectrum is completely utilized by consumers somebody is going to get throttled.

So it only makes sense that the heavy users get throttled FIRST.

/another way is to throttle based upon data plan cost with whoever pays the least for data gets throttled first when capacity fills-up


RE: nice article picture...
By omnicronx on 2/3/2011 1:40:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do understand that BY LAW a carrier can only own so much spectrum in any given market.

And you do know that wireless spectrum can only be used to transmit so much data.
To further your point, there is a reason the laws you speak of are in place, unfortunately we must obey the laws of physics, i.e there is only so much usable spectrum.

That said, that does not mean that throttling is the only solution, it just means that the idea that wireless is going to replace our land-line infrastructure is a pipe-dream as it currently stands.

Right now spectrum is not really the issue, but most likely a lack of infrastructure. Do you think AT&T bought more spectrum to enhance their network?

Not that this is an easy task either, having a network spread out over a vast space is not an easy thing to do, and there is really no other place in the world that has to deal with the technical limitations as in the US. (right now at least).


RE: nice article picture...
By mcnabney on 2/3/2011 2:06:55 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you understand telecom.

Wireless carriers always want more spectrum. Especially in urban markets. When Verizon bought Alltel they had to sell (divest) a lot of spectrum in the overlapping markets, like Chicago, because Verizon already controlled the legal limit and divestiture was a requirement of the acquisition. They also had to give up customers in markets that they were already dominant. That is why a lot of Alltel customers were really confused when Verizon bought them out and they found out that they were going to AT&T because Verizon already owned over 70% of the market.

And technically, wireless carriers could support much more spectrum and provide a lot more service if the cap was lifted. The towers might not even need to change if the antennas are appropriate to the frequencies, the controllers can handle the data, and there is already fiber/microwave service directly to the tower. The modern switches won't have any problems with even quadrupling capacity.


RE: nice article picture...
By omnicronx on 2/3/2011 3:53:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't think you understand telecom.

Wireless carriers always want more spectrum. Especially in urban markets. When Verizon bought Alltel they had to sell (divest) a lot of spectrum in the overlapping markets, like Chicago, because Verizon already controlled the legal limit and divestiture was a requirement of the acquisition. They also had to give up customers in markets that they were already dominant. That is why a lot of Alltel customers were really confused when Verizon bought them out and they found out that they were going to AT&T because Verizon already owned over 70% of the market.
I don't think you understand what we are talking about here. There is only so much usuable spectrum, and we are quickly approaching capacity of usable spectrum for wireless needs (regardless of what is bought/claimed etc). Any spectrum being bought was previously occupied by something else, and we are pretty much at the point where there are no large chunks left. So I'm not sure why you are comparing the wireless industry of yesterday when this was not an issue. It will be completely irrelevant what carriers want if there is nothing left to be had.

I also don't think you understand how wireless communications work as your last paragraph makes little sense. What do high speed switches/fibre already in towers have to do with anything when each tower is limited to its own 20MHZ chunk of bandwidth? The way in which towers are connected is not the bottleneck.


RE: nice article picture...
By mcnabney on 2/3/2011 4:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
There is scads of it. But it has to be leaked out at high prices.

In New York, Verizon has 85mhz and AT&T has around 70mhz. That is right now.

Verizon recently paid about $10B for 20mhz in the 700mhz range - coast to coast. It ain't cheap.

There is plenty more available, just being held in reserve or not being used by TV broadcasters. Even the largest wireless company is barely using more than 2 TV stations worth in a large market. If a business isn't using it, give it back.


By overlandpark4me on 2/5/2011 10:08:57 PM , Rating: 2
Then they shouldn't be signing up new customers. I look at this as the equivalent to overbooking a plane. People are kicked off, but get compensated for their troubles. "Phone carriers only have so much bandwidth"? When do they stop signing up new customers? Your argument has no merit. Service will continue to decline until no one has any speed after half their billing cycle has elapsed. The providers are the problem. "Download movies, connect to your computer at home, video chat, blah,blah,blah."


RE: nice article picture...
By nafhan on 2/3/2011 3:05:31 PM , Rating: 2
Uhm, usage based throttling isn't a net neutrality issue. Net neutrality has to do with restricting content based on it's type or it's origin/destination.
Obviously, unlimited is better for the consumer, but as long as all content is restricted equally then Verizon is still being "neutral".


Lets look at this from another perspective...
By mmp121 on 2/3/2011 3:33:19 PM , Rating: 2
Since it stands to reason that the remaining 95% of users (non-high usage) are by definition low usage users, can't Verizon throttle THEIR bandwidth!?

I mean if they don't use much bandwidth, it stands to reason, an extra second or two for their app to do its thing won't cause them any concern.

Just a thought...




By chagrinnin on 2/3/2011 5:33:36 PM , Rating: 2
Kirk: "Ah yes,...when the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many."


RE: Lets look at this from another perspective...
By Lerianis on 2/4/2011 9:31:04 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it's more of "The needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the one, nor is the inverse true!"

That is my opinion on that subject, in all honesty, unless you are talking about someone physically injuring someone else or killing someone else DIRECTLY from their actions.


By chagrinnin on 2/14/2011 5:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it's from Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

End of ST III:
Spock: My father says you have been my friend. You came back for me. Why would you do this?
Kirk: Because the needs of the one... outweigh the needs of the many.
Spock: (as if remembering) I have been... and ever shall be... your friend.
Kirk: Yes.... Yes Spock...
Spock: The ship... Out of danger?
Kirk: You saved the ship Spock! You saved us all. Don't you remember?!


Not the worst part...
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/3/2011 1:44:04 PM , Rating: 3
The throttling itself isn't the worst part... this wording makes it even worse:

quote:
we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle


So not only do they have you on the hook for the current billing cycle, but you get the brakes put on you for the NEXT billing cycle as well. That is BEYOND crazy.




RE: Not the worst part...
By mcnabney on 2/3/2011 2:12:20 PM , Rating: 1
It sounds like once you hit their 'made-up' 5% throughput they flag the line as a high user. When a tower hits capacity it will throttle the lines that are flagged as high users.

It actually sounds fair. If you use less the following month, the flag falls off.


RE: Not the worst part...
By Lerianis on 2/4/2011 3:03:56 AM , Rating: 2
You know, I hate to be offensive, but are you REALLY that damned stupid that you do not realize that most people CANNOT AND DO NOT want to limit what they download using a service that they are PAYING FOR in a specific time period!

They just want to download their web page, internet apps, video, etc. without having to worry about this bullcrap called a cap.

It's getting to the point where I would say, if I saw any throttling of me to Verizon "Okay.. you throttle... I SUE! " Let's see how they like it when that starts happening!

It's about time that they either put a HARD BITRATE CAP on these things for EVERYONE (admitting that they have oversubscribed on their services) or stayed away from throttling period.


By theplaidfad on 2/3/2011 1:06:25 PM , Rating: 5
It sure is a good thing the consumer is allowed to "throttle" payments to such companies, isn't it?




This is Bullsh*t
By AlterEcho on 2/3/2011 10:49:32 PM , Rating: 2
If I was Verizon, the last thing I would be admitting is that 5% of my users can create such havoc within my infrastructure. This policy makes Verizon sound weak and incapable of handling their current network load. To me it comes across as saying "Our network is fragile enough that 5% of our users can affect the entire infrastructure...and by the way, we felt that we had to court more customers with the iPhone". If 5% of the users can affect the network, what will the impact be from the iphone deluge?

Why worry about 4G, if you cannot handle the iPhone dump that will hit your network. I have a hard time believing that Verizon is worried about their infrastructure...this is more like trying to get an arbitrary cap, in-place. If I went to my boss and stated that our infrastructure could be impacted by the top 5% of our users. And we just hired another several hundred users so we will have to cap everyone, I would be fired...and rightfully so.

I left AT&T because of their caps. I have invested in a media streamer and Droid X so that I could watch 'shows', in the field. I could live even with a $10.00 monthly increase for that allowance. But to suddenly swing policy 180 without any warning, is just to much.

Funny how NTT DOCOMO does not have this same issue :/




RE: This is Bullsh*t
By royalcrown on 2/4/2011 11:30:22 AM , Rating: 1
Now you are being dumb. I was in a discussion with another Sprint user who freely said that he had at least 6 things tethered to his rooted phone 24/7 and torrented frequently. He was bitching about throttling when he used OVER 40 gigs a month. I think that kind of usage should be throttled for now. So he is savy enough to root his phone, have at least six computers and can't afford wired internet, gimme a break ?


RE: This is Bullsh*t
By AlterEcho on 2/4/2011 11:41:45 PM , Rating: 2
So, being dumb is expecting Verizon to abide by the EUA that I originally signed? I am not some sheep that just "goes with the flow". I entered into an agreement with Verizon and I fully expect them to abide by that agreement until my contract ends. So, for another year-and-a-half they had better not even think of throttling me. Especially, when they state the fragility of their network and courting thousands of iPhone users at the same time. If 5% of your users can disrupt the network, you had better be working on your infrastructure. Not trying to court thousands of users and overloading the network, even more.

If Verizon tries to throttle me, then I will employ my brother and sister (Esq.) and bring legal action...and the good thing about that is it will cost me very little. Am I pissed and going a little overboard...you betcha'. Unless people stand up and take action, corporations will continue to think that they can change the EUA whenever they want. You can continue to graze with the herd...I prefer a different path.

And you're analogy of your friend's usage of wireless and my usage are completely wrong. I am not hanging on the network 24/7. I am not trying to torrent. I am streaming to my phone when I am in the field...which is four days of the week. I am using a Verizon FiOS DVR connected to a Vulkano, on a Verizon Fios home network. This is being streamed to a Verizon Android device with an Android streaming app that Verizon approved. I do not see any correlation with your story and my situation. And to be honest your friend's usage is his business...not yours or mine. For you to say that his usage justifies 'throttling', then where do you draw the line? What one person depends on is not the same for another. 'Grandma' might think your usage is excessive. So, I do not think you want to go down that road...thinking like that is very dangerous.


Frankly I don't blame them
By fbrdphreak on 2/3/2011 1:09:23 PM , Rating: 4
If somebody wants to use their phone's data connection as their sole internet connectivity, they should be willing to pay for it in the form of higher costs or multiple services. Right now, wireless data connections are not robust enough to support many users using large amounts of data. Eventually, we will get there. Until then, it's not going to be ideal.




Request
By Smilin on 2/3/11, Rating: 0
RE: Request
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/3/2011 2:45:33 PM , Rating: 3
I thought about that, but we already have a Star Wars reference on the front page. Gotta spread the scifi love around ;)


This is the way to do it.
By SirKronan on 2/3/2011 3:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
I have almost no problem with this method. I personally know people that use way more than "reasonable" data on their smartphones, hack them to wirelessly tether to all the devices in their house as their primary internet, without paying the proper fees for such a service, and a literal data gluttons. I realize unlimited is unlimited, but I'd rather have it be this way than a hard cap at say 5GB. And this is the easiest way to discourage those that truly are taking advantage and using way more than reasonable amounts of data without affecting the vast majority at all, and possibly improving their experience, most certainly during peak times. And I reckon if even the top 5% are in reasonable usage amounts, little to no throttling would be done.

Although I agree with those of you saying that they should specify who's going to get hit with it after a certain amount of GB and beyond. That would at least make the customers a little more aware, and not be such a surprise if they get throttled.




Finally
By btc909 on 2/3/2011 9:55:16 PM , Rating: 2
The cell tower you are connected to should always be throttling your data speeds depending on the up & down speed of the pipe going to the tower & how many "data" users are connected to that tower. Oh wait, is it "first come first serve" now that would be moronic if this is the case. Or if Verizon employees have to ability to get unrestricted speeds which will penalize the other data users. The T-Mobile & Sprint towers around Riverside, CA have been a dialup speed joke for months. Wasn't always that way.




Better Than A Cap
By wempa on 2/4/2011 12:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
I prefer this over data caps. Let's face it, QOS is already being implemented on the internet and this is pretty much the same thing. I'll take unlimited data, with throttling rather than a set limit that I'd get charged for if I exceed. I think this is definitely more user friendly.




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