Updated 06:15 AM EST, Sat, Dec 05, 2020

Red Light: Verizon Announces Plan to Slow Data Speeds for Power Users

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Verizon has just announced that it will begin severely limiting the data speeds of certain users' 4G plans. According to the wireless giant, the reason for the change is the growing demand from consumers for more bandwidth more often. 

Top Tech News reports that the Executive Director of Corporate Communications at Verizon Wireless Tom Pica recently posted an explanation for the announcement on Verizon's news center.

Pica spins it as though Verizon is only limiting the data speeds of the "heaviest 3G data users" in order to guarantee a better mobile data experience for all of its users:

"Three years ago, Verizon Wireless introduced a network optimization policy to ensure that all data customers would have the best network experience," he explained. "To accomplish this, Verizon Wireless' Network Optimization policy limits the data speeds of the heaviest 3G data users -- only select subscribers with unlimited data plans whose data usage is in the top 5 percent of all data users -- when those users are connected to cell sites experiencing heavy demand so that all data users will enjoy a quality wireless data experience."

Over the past few years, Verizon has phased out its unlimited plans, and most of its users are now on one of the tiered data options that have a hard cap on monthly data usage. Yet the unlimited users who had their plans before Verizon phased out its unlimited options saw their plans "grandfathered," or were still honored by the carrier since they had a prior existing agreement with those customers. 


Pica said Verizon plans to throttle the data speeds of only a select few of its heaviest users -- and even then, only if or when those users are accessing a cell site that is experiencing heavy traffic at that time. 

"Once the heavy usage eases, or the user moves to a different cell site, the user's speeds return to normal," Pica claims. "Verizon Wireless' practice of Network Optimization ensures that all customers have the best wireless data experience possible." 

So if you're a Verizon power user and you routinely use more than 5 - 7GB of data per month, you might expect a slower data connection whenever you encounter a cell site experiencing "peak usage." Which means it could happen at basically anytime and anyplace. Like the Janet Jackson song. Moving on. 

According to Pica, Verizon will roll out this "network optimization" policy for those users who are within the top 5% of the carrier's data hogs and are on an unlimited plan and use a 4G LTE device:

They may experience slower data speeds when using certain high bandwidth applications, such as streaming high-definition video or during real-time, online gaming, and only when connecting to a cell site when it is experiencing heavy demand."

So, basically whenever you want to do something fun with your phone, they're going to nix your data. Ouch. 


Switching carriers isn't really an option since the other major US wireless companies have been shown to already employ data policies that are very similar to what Verizon is implementing. 

The only real solution is to use Wi-Fi when you can, especially at home. Other than that, if you've been lucky enough to have had an unlimited plan with Verizon over the past few years and you routinely use a lot of data per month, watching HD video content or playing games on your mobile device is about to become a real pain. 

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