Verizon Takes Controversial Measures to Prevent Wireless Data Slowdown

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Much to the dismay of data hogs on the Verizon network, it has recently been revealed that Big Red is going to be throttling the data speeds of those users who take up far more than an average amount of bandwidth via their unlimited data plans.

Verizon LogoVerizon Wireless has quietly posted on its website an update to its Terms of Service that includes a new policy: the top 5% of data users on the network could have their bandwidth cut down for not only the current billing cycle, but also the following one.

One of the biggest risks for users, obviously, is that there is no way to know what the mark is. Given that it’s done as a percentage compared to other customers’ usage, all people can do is be conservative and hope that they aren’t among the roughly 5 million of the 95 million Verizon customers that get their data speeds throttled.

The statement from this carrier says:

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. 

Other Measures
The other stipulation mentioned in the new Terms of Service also pertained to the issue of data consumption; Verizon said that it also retains the right to down-res any multimedia that is sent via its data network. This means, among other things, that users can end up experiencing pixilated photo and video quality.

This rule change says:

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.

Changes Already In Place
Effective immediately, these policy changes are most likely in anticipation of the carrier’s upcoming iPhone 4 release, likely in an attempt to prevent the massive influx of users from slowing down the network — the very reasoning behind AT&T no longer offering unlimited data plans.

Still, it’s also going to affect every Verizon smartphone user who uses applications and services that require a lot of bandwidth, such as streaming audio and video.

Source (PDF)

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