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Cellphones Media Verizon Wireless Networking

Verizon Makes It Easy To Go Over Your Data Cap 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-it-was-as-it-ever-shall-be dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Verizon Wireless has revamped its video service; many Android phones can now stream full episodes from a number of current TV shows. You can even choose to just buy access for a day if you don't see yourself using the service often. Sounds great, right? Well, except for the part where all of Verizon's current smartphone plans have data caps — and the new service makes it awfully easy to go over them and incur overage charges."
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Verizon Makes It Easy To Go Over Your Data Cap

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  • Not all plans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nialin (570647) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:19AM (#37188914)

    ...all of Verizon's current smartphone plans have data caps

    If you've got an Unlimited Data plan (as I have), this won't be an issue. The throttling of your service will be, however.

    Fuckers.

    • But even the "unlimited" plan is capped @ 5 GB. How is that unlimited? And that is going away so no new customers can sign up for it. 4G speeds (which are pretty decent) plus any cap is just trolling for overage fees by Verizon. They refuse to upgrade their infrastructure to support more downloading at increased speeds. I deal with Verizon directly all the time because I work for Public Safety in my city, and some of the crap they pull on their own network amazes me to this day.
      • by msauve (701917)

        even the "unlimited" plan is capped @ 5 GB.

        No, it's not. Verizon can throttle the top 5% of bandwidth consumers, but there's no "5 GB" cap. Poke around, and you'll find people who have used 40+ GB in a month.

      • by grumling (94709)

        It's unlimited in that you can trickle out data all you want, 24/7. There's no difference in bits gathered between 8:00am and 5:00pm, and bits gathered between 8:00pm and 12:00 midnight.

        So you can ping your router all day, with no extra charges.

        To the telecoms, unlimited is a reference to time, not bulk.

      • What part of "grandfathered in" is difficult to understand? Back in the before time, unlimited really was unlimited for in-phone use. My plan is about 2 years old and I have two data metering sections on my bill. "UNLIMITED MEGABYTE ALLOW" which shows "xxxx KB/Unlimited" usage and "5GB $.05MB TETHER W/VOICE" which shows "xxxx KB/5242880 KB" usage. Tethering only comes into play when connecting a computer via USB using Verizon's connection software.

        When I upgrade my phone, I'll be able to keep that unlim

    • by shalla (642644)

      If you've got an Unlimited Data plan (as I have), this won't be an issue. The throttling of your service will be, however.

      Actually, you can no longer get the plan you are referring to unless you had it prior to something like July 7. I know because I made a point to go out and purchase exactly that plan so that I would be grandfathered in for unlimited data before Verizon stopped selling the plan. Now any plan Verizon sells you has a data cap.

      I'll note that this was mentioned in the article.

    • They're supposed to learn from the cable companies... Duh.

      Most cable companies ran 20Mb+ to everybodies house... But only sell YOU 3-5 of it. The rest they keep and use for THEIR video service... That doesn't count toward your cap... And nets them a tidy monthly fee.

      In the meantime they throttle iTunes, hulu, netflix.. Silly Verizion...

  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:19AM (#37188916) Journal

    Our telcos have been doing this for years.

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      Uh, mobile data plans are capped in MOST countries. This isn't just an Australian thing. It's the caps on wired (DSL, cable etc.) plans that are less common (although still not unique to Australia either - not that it really matters anyway given that there are caps available upwards of 1 TB/month now on major ISPs...)

  • Scenario 1, you get a message saying your bandwidth is used up and internet stops. No great problem.

    Scenario 2, the net keeps working and there is no indication but you silently get a huge bill [whirlpool.net.au] at the end of the month. This is really bad

    Which is it?
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vipw (228) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @05:46AM (#37189006)

    At least that is network neutrality. Would it really be better if they waived the bandwidth charge when using their movie service but made customers pay extra when using competing services (e.g. Netflix)?

    Just think about what you're complaining about, and what it really means. The only problem is that the data caps are low and the overage charges are high -- and that is exactly what one should expect given the competitiveness of wireless service in the USA.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      At least that is network neutrality.

      When I think of "network neutrality", I think of connections outside of their own network - control of their pipe to the larger internet. I definitely don't expect sites outside of the ISP's network to load as quickly as those inside, and I don't object to them setting up things like caching servers inside their own network.

    • by tunapez (1161697)

      I hate to say it, but the overage charges are relatively not bad. $10/GB is chump change considering that it used to be $500/GB when they charged overage by the MB(USB/Mifi/whatever data plans). I realize compared to a fiber connection it is crazy high, but think about it... you have wireless data anywhere there's a phone signal! If we put our entitled consumer ego aside and judge it for what it is, it is amazing.

      My soul hurts after defending VZW, but they do offer the best coverage and they are now slight

    • by sjames (1099)

      It would be better if they would be more consistent. On one hand, they claim that bulk transfer is an incredibly rare commodity and so they must dole it out with an eyedropper for the good of the network. On the other hand, they release apps that actively encourage you to burn up as much transfer as you possibly can, and don't even let you use WiFi offload.

      It would also be nice if cell providers didn't charge such rapacious 'overage' rates and then make it as easy as they possibly can to go over your cap.

    • Some carriers already do this (for cable/DSL at least, don't know of any cell carriers that do it). They give cap exemptions for Netflix, Facebook and Windows Update. Some airline wifi services give free Facebook access but make you pay for other stuff.

  • by protodevilin (1304731) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:16AM (#37189128)
    I'm about to return to the United States after living in the UK for 3 years, and enjoying the benefits of its highly competitive GSM cellular market. There are over half a dozen major carriers to choose from out here, each with a wide and unique range of devices and plans to choose from, resulting in overall much greater value for the consumer than is currently available in the US.

    I'm not at all looking forward to choosing whether to lie back or bend over before I get rightly screwed by whatever carrier I go with when I return. We've really let these telcos run amok unchecked, and now look at us.
    • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:31AM (#37189190)

      I'm not at all looking forward to choosing whether to lie back or bend over before I get rightly screwed by whatever carrier I go with when I return.

      Don't be ridiculous. You have lots and lots of choices in the US, when it comes to your cell phone service.

      You get to choose how much, what colour, what scent, what taste, what manufacturer and what type of lube they use when they're raping your ass. That right there is hundreds if not thousands of combinations and choices.

      What more could you possibly ask for?

      • Sprint - they still have unlimited data. If people would stop with the "they're all the same" crap and actually move to the carrier that still offers unlimited data, the market would reward them for it. Instead, non-geeks don't know enough or care about data caps, and geeks complain that Sprint doesn't have "real" 4G (as if WiMax wasn't more than enough bandwidth for streaming video).
        • by YoungHack (36385)

          I'm not sure how it is in the rest of the country, but if I actually want coverage (i.e. radio signals) my list of carriers is basically 2, US Cellular or Verizon (or competitors who buy access to their networks like Page Plus).

          • by ThinkWeak (958195)
            I'm actually migrating away from Sprint because the coverage is actually getting worse in my area. Their unlimited plan was nice, when I could answer the phone in my living room. Now I have to walk outside to actually have a conversation with anyone.
            • by Yvan256 (722131)

              It's nice talking with your neighbors, isn't it?

              • by mjwx (966435)

                It's nice talking with your neighbors, isn't it?

                Yeah but at A$0.10 connection fee and A$0.15 per minute, it's cost prohibitive.

        • I tried a Virgin Mobile prepaid phone a few weeks ago (which uses Sprint's network and no other) - and found myself completely unable to activate the phone because there wasn't a signal, in spite of what the coverage map showed. I ended up returning the phone for a refund.

          I'll stick with my TracFone for now - since I rarely text, and don't use it often, I can keep it going for less than $7/month, and I can get a decent signal just about anywhere. It sucks in other ways, though - the camera is craptastic, an

          • by swb (14022)

            I get that it works for you, but why do people who never use a smartphone feel the need to comment on a topic based around people who use a smart phone and use it a lot? I see this in almost every Slashdot story about cell phone service.

            "Well, I use a disposable flip phone with prepaid service from Trac, never send texts, don't access the Internet and make 2 calls a month." Great. Do you also live above Grandmas garage, collect aluminum cans for a living and otherwise not participate in the same world th

            • by tepples (727027)

              why do people who never use a smartphone feel the need to comment on a topic based around people who use a smart phone and use it a lot?

              It could be because "people who never use a smartphone feel the need to" see if they can be talked into becoming "people who use a smart phone and use it a lot".

              Do you also live above Grandmas garage, collect aluminum cans for a living

              Someone born in a place where jobs aren't has to do what he can in order to become able to afford to move to a place where jobs are.

              but not if you're running a whole business (email, voice, etc) off a smartphone

              In some industries, one would need a dedicated office to "run[] a whole business" because suppliers won't ship to home offices.

            • by SIGBUS (8236)

              I get that it works for you, but why do people who never use a smartphone feel the need to comment on a topic based around people who use a smart phone and use it a lot?

              Maybe because I wanted to get one that didn't cost more per month than my home internet connection, and wasn't saddled with misfeatures designed to con the victims, er, customers into spending even more? I'd love to be able to jump on the Internet wherever I go, whenever I want, but not if it's going to to be a neverending ripoff. Maybe you like bending over for the likes of Verizon and AT&T, but don't assume everyone else does.

              As it is, the shortest book ever written is "Cell Phone Companies that Don't

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I used Sprint until their customer service essentially told me I was crazy when I tried to help them resolve a bug in their usage reporting.

          I've heard that their customer service isn't in absolute last place anymore, but I've been pleased with the service I get at T-Mobile, and I'm grandfathered into an unbeatable plan.

          • I've been pleased with the service I get at T-Mobile

            You won't be pleased once AT&T completes its acquisition of T-Mobile. A recent review in Consumer Reports says that of the big four carriers, AT&T has the worst customer satisfaction.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Well, yeah, LOL, but I sort of live in the now :) Probably have to re-evaluate next year. I'm torn between the better network of Verizon and just throwing the smartphone in the garbage and going to prepaid.

        • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

          Sprint - they still have unlimited data.

          Unlimited data may not be around for long if Sprint is anything like Verizon
          http://mobile.wsj.com/article/SB100014240531119033279045765266906 [wsj.com]

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        My personal solution to this situation is that I am keeping my 6 years old phone and plan. Alarms do not work anymore and buttons sticking in the middle of dialing numbers, all three batteries I have go down to zero after 30 min of talk, but I am sticking to it, because I ain't paying $30 more (almost twice more) for the same service just because you decided that if I want a smartphone I have to have a data plan.

        • by Jon_S (15368)

          Do what I did: buy one of these

          http://pocketpccentral.net/samsung_i760.htm [pocketpccentral.net]

          from ebay and put it on your verizon account. Because it is grandfathered in, you don't have to buy a data plan. You can turn the data plan on and off if you know you are going to need it for a week or so (need to go to a VZW store to do this, though).

          Has wifi, so you can use all the kind-of-smartphone feature wherever you have a wifi signal and don't have to pay by the kB. And there are some WM apps, like google maps, and some dec

          • by mapkinase (958129)

            But I already have very a similar smartphone. I am not sure even the grandfathered one I buy on ebay won't have the same problems I have.a

    • by msauve (701917)
      The UK is a completely different market. It's much more compact, much more population dense, and has much less rural area. The costs of providing wireless service are much less than in the US (except for possibly "metro only" providers).
    • by jez9999 (618189)

      I'm about to return to the United States after living in the UK for 3 years, and enjoying the benefits of its highly competitive GSM cellular market

      It's sort of OK, but (perhaps because of the obscene overvaluation of 3G licences when they were sold for over £20b, years ago) I only get 1GB of data per month for £25/mo, with Three - the network that boasts about how great its 3G internet is. Just don't try to really use it for a day. I've already used 950MB and I'm only halfway thro

  • by retroworks (652802) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @06:44AM (#37189244) Homepage Journal
    I just had to replace a phone (canoe accident) and Sprint said the hardware replacement meant my previous unlimited data plan was no longer extended. I assume the phone companies are all watching to see what one another gets away with. At least there is competition. Most USA cell phone users give me a blank stare when I allude to "Ma Bell".
    • At the moment, Sprint seems to be the best phone company in the Midwest. They're the only one whose unlimited data plan is unlimited.
  • by crow_t_robot (528562) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @07:19AM (#37189398)
    It looks like the mobile industry is using strategies from the consumer lending playbook...get people in with cheap services and make the penalties extremely high if you go over your limit/late payment. This is a money-making strategy that took the consumer lending industry by storm. Watch this: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/creditcards/view/ [pbs.org]
  • with it's own fee and no data plan needed?

  • I am sick of this whole game with the major cell service carriers in the US. Verizon's whole attitude towards their customer is 'you need us', not 'what can we do to make you be/remain our customer'. I am waiting for my contract to expire in two months, but unfortunately my phone bit the dust over the weekend and I decided to reconsider getting a new contract in order to get a discounted phone, so I go to the local Verizon store and had an experience that completely reinforced this perception that I have of

  • What if eveyone on Slashdot that is concerned about this issue were to file a complaint against these telcos here [justice.gov] I wonder what would happen? I think that would be interesting to watch these telcos squirm their way out of this practice once justice comes a knocking.
  • I think I just found VZ's new marketing campaign.

    They just need to license it from Staples first.

  • I'd comment but I am using my Verizon phone for internet and I'm affraid they will see. ;-)
  • Buys up all the spectrum, drops unlimited data plans.

  • Verizon is an evil cell phone company and all but I don't think this is quite as sinister as the summary makes it out to be.

    It sounds to me like the marketing department came up with a plan for a service and the billing people set the data caps. This is one of those situations where Hanlon's Razor applies pretty well, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

    • ...and, as someone pointed out, would it be better if using Verizon Video ignored your data caps, yet using Hulu didn't?

      Don't get me wrong--the whole, "We need these data caps to make sure the network doesn't get saturated by these bandwidth hogs streaming video!" followed by "Hey! Pay us $10 per month and be a bandwidth hog!" is a bit hypocritical.

  • I don't see anything wrong with Verizon offering content that is so irrestable that they end up making more money. In fact, I'm pretty sure that is their sworn duty.

    Grandmother's chocholate chip cookies make be deliciously irresistable but it is still my fault if I fall off my diet.

    Cheers,
    Matt

    • I agree. The issue I have is the hypocrisy of Verizon insisting that it needs data caps because a few people will suck up all the bandwidth and slow down service for everyone else and then turn around and offer a service that sucks up all the bandwidth and slows down service for everyone else.

  • Got a letter from Cogeco Cable Internet the other day. Was told that not only were they increasing the speed of my service and slightly increasing my bandwidth, that they would also be increasing the cap to which I pay when I go over my actual bandwidth cap from 30$ to 50$.

    I see a movement to a model where you have to go over, and all the profit is from making you do so, and charging exorbitant rates at the same time. So while the bandwidth curve of need is an exponential curve of X, the cap curve will be m

  • They finally figured out a way to get me to feel happy about being locked in to a 2 year contract.

    Previously I was always itching to upgrade my phone but now between the new data caps and the fact that the Droid X is pretty nice I'm happy to stand pat.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Wednesday August 24, 2011 @12:12PM (#37192312) Journal
    These sorts of scams from wireless providers have always been in place. Their networks have always had overstated bandwidth capacity, have always been grossly overbooked, and have always been overpriced. They're really turning the screws, now, so that I can't believe anybody could possibly overlook how screwed over they are if they sign the contract. All this for being able to view "content" on a tiny little screen, perhaps not even at full motion speeds.
  • I have an unlimited data plan, but I only use 1, maybe 2 GB max a month. This morning I was curious what my options would be if i chose to get off of it.
    I currently have the choice between unlimited for $29.99, 2 GB for $30, 5 GB for $50, and 10 GB for $80.
    Needless to say, I stayed unlimited.
    Can you imagine if ISPs tried to charge these batshit crazy rates?
  • TFA seems to be long on speculation and short on actual data. Obviously streaming video isn't bandwidth-cheap, but does anyone have real figures on how much data streaming, say, a standard 24-minute TV show would take, and how many episodes it would take to hit the 2GB monthly cap? If they can, for instance, stream a low-quality episode in 10-20 MB then this seems like much sound and fury over very little...

  • Write your republican reps, write your republican friends, or if you are a republican realize this is why we need a CPA.

    Someone in the government needs to say "Hey, stop f'ing you customers."

    In the long run people will get overage charges like they used to with long distance, local news and national news ( 20/20, dateline ) will "expose" it. Then someone will come along and say hey don't like caps, don't like overage's come to us.

    I'm actually more interested in abstracting the actual network. If there are c

  • Now you know why they did it.

    Let's start the chant....

    Phase 1: Tease.
    Phase 2: Deal with customers who are both pissed off and confused.
    Phase 3: PROFIT!

    Let's go, team!

  • It's like saying, Amazon is trying to make you spend more money by providing more attractive merchandise.

    Plus you can always use wifi.

  • LOL! Such an epic fail. PR wise.

    EPIC win for profits. It's aaaall bullshit :)

    Introduce extreme low caps, then introduce a video streaming service to reap insane bandwidth charges on already vastly overpriced bandwidth :D
    Cool, i'd like to be the one who collects the overages, but i would never signup for a service like this :)

    OK i admit i signed up to dual sim + usb 3G modem for 20€ which disallows P2P, but unlimited otherwise :) now i got a fast "permanent" connection for my garage too :D

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