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Verizon Now Throttling Top 'Unlimited' Subscribers On 4G LTE 274

Posted by timothy
from the we-meant-un-un-un-unlimited dept.
PC Magazine (along with Forbes, Reuters, and others) reports that those on the rightmost edge of the graph for Verizon's "unlimited" 4G LTE service are about to hit a limit: [T]hose in the top five percent of Verizon's unlimited data users (which requires one to pull down an average of just around 4.7 gigabytes of monthly data or so) who are enrolled on an unlimited data plan and have fulfilled their minimum contract terms (are now on a month-to-month plan) will be subject to network throttling if they're trying to connect up to a cellular tower that's experiencing high demand." As the article goes on to point out, though, [A] user would have to hit all of these criteria in order to have his or her connection slowed down. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, giving even more weight to the fact that Verizon's throttling — while annoying on paper — won't affect a considerable majority of those still holding on to their unlimited data plans.
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Verizon Now Throttling Top 'Unlimited' Subscribers On 4G LTE

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  • 1 or 1 million (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2014 @05:42PM (#47540149)

    It doesn't matter. If customers are paying for it, throttling them should be seen as illegal. I've been a Verizon Wireless customer for over a decade and these recent decisions to screw their own customers have led me to the decision I don't want Verizon anything. Not their phones, Internet, anything. Switching to T-Mobil this week.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mattwarden (699984)

      Unlimited bandwidth is not possible. You can make it illegal all you want. It doesn't trump physics.

      • Re:1 or 1 million (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NoKaOi (1415755) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @05:58PM (#47540199)

        Unlimited bandwidth is not possible. You can make it illegal all you want. It doesn't trump physics.

        Solution: Don't lie and call it unlimited. The point is that customers are paying for something Verizon calls "unlimited" which is not actually unlimited. The customers contracts are up so they can put those customers on other plans, the problem is when they still call the altered plan "unlimited."

        • well since verizon (and other ISP's) get to redefine words like 'unlimited', i'll redefine the term "dollar" to "liberian dollar".. i just need to find a way to sneak that into fine print.. and i should be good to go.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          I agree. Verizon should never have grandfathered these plans in their current pricing model doesn't allow for it. I had unlimited EVDO data which is very different than what unlimited data would be today.

        • by kwbauer (1677400)

          Since the contract period expired, as stated in the summary, then they really aren't violating a contract are they? The summary mentions customer who had unlimited plans and are still off contract after the contract's expiration.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by theraptor05 (908452)
            You are correct, Verizon can do this leaglly (unless the FCC ever gets their act together), but not for the reason you mention. There is still a contract, with agreements about what services will be provided, and how much those services will cost. Unlimited data is one of those services. The "contract period" is simply the minimum length of time the contract will be in effect without the customer having to pay an early termination fee. If Verizon wants to change any terms of the service (throttling, no unli
      • Re:1 or 1 million (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Saturday July 26, 2014 @06:02PM (#47540211) Journal

        Neither is downloading an unlimited amount in a finite period at any finite speed, no matter how fast. The point of an unlimited bandwidth plan is so that one does not experience any unexpected fees for excessive usage, regardless of how much they actually end up using the service. If Verizon doesn't have the infratstructure to support its subscribers having such plans, then they shouldn't be offering them.

        The fact that they literally can't download an infinite quantity of content in a month is irrelevant.

        If you're just adverse to the notion of "unlimited bandwidth" you can think of unlimited bandwidth plan, as actually a cap at whatever the theoretical maximum could be if they were downloading 24/7 at full speed for the entire billing cycle, the maximums of which are dictated by the physical hardware and technology... which is only limited by what we can do today, but if the technology improves, the cap goes up with it, with no defined upper bound. And that's the "unlimited" that is being referred to.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        Unlimited bandwidth is not possible. You can make it illegal all you want. It doesn't trump physics.

        Limited bandwidth does not justify throttling some customers more than others, depending on the nature of their "unlimited" contract.

      • Re:1 or 1 million (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DRJlaw (946416) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @09:09PM (#47540861)

        Unlimited bandwidth is not possible. You can make it illegal all you want. It doesn't trump physics.

        Nobody sane claimed that Verizon was offering unlimited bandwidth. Bandwidth was quite obviously limited to 3G speeds, and then subsequently LTE speeds.

        Verizon offered unlimited "data," as in no artificial limit on the amount of data that you could download using that bandwidth. Verizon subsequently imposed artificial limits on the amount of data that users could download per month on other plans. Verizon is now limiting bandwidth based upon the amount of data one has downloaded combined with a somewhat arbitrary measure of congestion -- they don't bother to specify what utilization threshold a cell base station has to cross to be considered "congested" so as to trigger the limitation.

        Physics has nothing to do with that limitation. Physics does not dictate that a shared resource be preferentially allocated to those not on an "unlimited" plan because the provider quite badly wants to push users onto pay-per-quantity plans without taking the PR hit necessary to actually terminate the now month-to-month unlimited contracts.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Unlimited bandwidth is not possible. You can make it illegal all you want. It doesn't trump physics.

        4 Gig is a long way from unlimited.

        But even unlimited was always understood to be limited because there are only so many hours in a day you could conceivably pull data over an unlimited network.

        Still 10Gig used to be what the carriers were bitching about. Now its the top 5%. Here's a clue Verizon: The top 5%, like the poor, will always be with us. And punishment on a sliding percentage based scale eventually even reaches average users as average is driven ever downward. After they kill of the 4 gig gob

      • It's not unlimited bandwidth, it's unlimited data.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        Sigh, I must be on slashdot. "Unlimited" doesn't mean "free from the laws of physics." It means it isn't limited by the carrier. (If I told you there was no speed limit on the autobahn, would you honestly think I was hoping to drive faster-than-light?)
      • "Unlimited bandwidth is not possible. You can make it illegal all you want. It doesn't trump physics"

        You are confusing the term unlimited with infinite. Unlimited means "we don't limit it". I just found out that Virgin Mobile is doing this as well, and it is fraud. It is very easy to understand why throttling is limiting bandwidth. Suppose I tell you that you can have as much data as you want this month, but I will only send you a single bit per day. I have just limited your data usage to 28 to 31 bits

    • Re:1 or 1 million (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @06:05PM (#47540231)

      It sounds like theyre saying this is only on cell towers under high demand: That means it is literally impossible to fulfill requests from all connected subscribers at full time. In that case, QoS is the correct thing to do.

      • by TheReaperD (937405) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @06:13PM (#47540263)

        This is just until the news cycle finds its next shinny bloodbath and moves on. Once that happens, then Verizon will slap the bandwidth cap on all the time in every place. They're just trying to find a way to annoy these people into changing plans or switching to another provider without it making front page news.

        • So in other words, its a non issue, but we should get pissed off over a non issue just so that when it hypothetically becomes a real issue we will have already expressed the correct amount of outrage?

          Im not clear how this works.

          • by TubeSteak (669689)

            So in other words, its a non issue, but we should get pissed off over a non issue just so that when it hypothetically becomes a real issue we will have already expressed the correct amount of outrage?

            Companies float these trial balloons to see if it gets shot down out of the sky.
            If it doesn't, then they progress to the next stage of the trial.

            So yes, get pissed off at "a non issue," because with enough outrage, most companies will say "I'm sorry" and then pull back.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        QoS is about prioritizing some traffic over others. That's precisely what they are doing. Prioritizing paying traffic over free traffic.

      • by Imrik (148191)

        So why are they only doing this to people who have already paid off their phone?

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Verizon charges their customers quite an extra $5 / gig for 4G data. . Data is a common resource heavy users tax the system everyone else uses. Heavy users who are paying help to grow the network. Heavy users who aren't are a tragedy of the commons. They shouldn't have grandfathered these plans in at all.

    • It sounds like they're only doing this when the network is congested in a specific location. Like they're basically prioritizing slowing down the heavy users when things get busy, rather than everyone. I have a much harder time getting worked up about that, especially when they're waiting until people are out of contract and can easily switch carriers.

      • by Imrik (148191)

        To me it depends somewhat on how many towers are considered high-demand. If there's only a few it's fine, but if it's virtually every tower in an urban area, that's a problem.

  • I was sent a warning message about this, I'm still grandfathered in on the unlimited plan. I looked at my usage and over 4G of traffic was from facebook... apparently because I was auto-playing videos. Turning this off on an iphone requires you to go to the settings menu on the phone (not, confusingly, the settings menu in the facebook app, but the facebook app settings in the phone settings menu). You can set it to auto-play only on wifi or never.

  • Then the users. Perhaps every of their customers should begin throttling payments. But coming from an industry where charging both the sender and recipient of the same SMS is the way to do business, not surprising.

  • by gTsiros (205624) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @06:04PM (#47540223)

    that takes 5 GB per month?

    do you HAVE to stream entire movies and music to it?

    why not copy stuff to its storage and maybe save some wireless bandwidth?

    • B-b-b-b-but that would actually make sense, and we can't have that.

      • You know I'd love to do that, but Google wants me to buy some Cloud storage that's only there if I'm connected to the internet, only there if I have data left this cycle, and only 5s of latency to open the file if I have a solid LTE signal in a non-downtown area. Otherwise (and believe me, there's a lot of otherwise), forget it.

        So they don't put microSD slots in their phones anymore. Dummies.
        Thankfully I just stopped fighting on this matter. I have one station that I like to stream if I want some background

    • by tlambert (566799)

      that takes 5 GB per month?

      do you HAVE to stream entire movies and music to it?

      why not copy stuff to its storage and maybe save some wireless bandwidth?

      Maybe Verizon FIOS is his hem provider, and either way, he hits a dumb ass Verizon data cap because they've gotten state laws passed to prevent cities from building their own infrastructure?

    • do you HAVE to stream entire movies and music to it?

      I dont have to, but I want to. Why do think I signed up for their unlimited plan. If I were only using 5GB a month, I would switch to republic wireless instead.

      why not copy stuff to its storage and maybe save some wireless bandwidth?

      Because I dont have the space, and I am instead paying for unlimited data.

    • by Lord Crc (151920)

      If I'd listen to di.fm on my way to and from work, which takes me about an hour each way, it would be about 4.6 GB per month just there.

      Now if I paid for an "unlimited" plan, I would expect such casual usage to be perfectly within the bounds of "unlimited".

  • So if it only hits a handful of folks, then the overall improvement on the network will be minimal, right? So what the heck is the point?

    Why not take the buttloads of profit you a-holes are making an build out your network instead of coming up with this Rube Goldberg throttling crap?

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      Why not take the buttloads of profit you a-holes are making an build out your network instead of coming up with this Rube Goldberg throttling crap?

      When this question was put to Lowell C. McAdam, CEO of Verizon, his response was, "Because fuck you, that's why. And by the way, sign this new user agreement where you give away any rights to sue Verizon for anything ever for the rest of your life and agree to instead face arbitration by that group of Verizon lawyers, sitting right over there with the "Fuck You,

  • by ShaunC (203807)

    Who is Verizon not fucking over? I'm not even their customer and I feel like I need some lube, just from hearing about these things. I would never, ever buy any service from Verizon. Every business they're in, they seem to take pleasure in punishing their customers just for using what they tried to purchase.

    It's bad enough dealing with Comcast, but thankfully I don't rely on them for all of my services (despite their best efforts) and Sprint treats me pretty well for cell service.

    • Who is Verizon not fucking over? I'm not even their customer and I feel like I need some lube, just from hearing about these things. I would never, ever buy any service from Verizon. Every business they're in, they seem to take pleasure in punishing their customers just for using what they tried to purchase.

      Look, Verizon is clearly evil and it seems almost everything they do only compounds their evil factor... but this is not one of those things. This is perfectly reasonable on the surface: Overloaded tower, less intensive customers line up first in the queue. Utterly fair. If I were a Verizon customer, I would be happy with this; especially if I were not on an unlimited plan. Even if I were on an unlimited plan, if I had already downloaded 4GB of data, I would be cool with sharing the limited resources with o

  • I'm definitely meeting all the conditions required to be throttled. I'm going to wait until October to see what the impact is for me. Whether or not I stay with Verizon will depend on the severity of the throttling, and how frequently the tower where I live suffers from saturation.

    As long as I get at least EvDO speeds (over LTE, for the lower ping and IPv6), I'll probably stay with Verizon and continue my existing usage pattern. I use about 70 to 150 GB per month. I tether with the (legitimate) mobile hotsp

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @06:53PM (#47540393) Homepage Journal

      Oh, plus the fact that I've successfully convinced tens of people in the past, who already have a suitable wireline connection at home, to subscribe to Verizon limited data plans because they actually do offer more data for less money than their competitors, and the service reliability and availability is second to none.

      You cruel, cynical bastard. How often do you have to change your name?

    • by vux984 (928602)

      I use about 70 to 150 GB per month.

      ok... Verizon's taking a real risk with this, Oh, and they'll lose my $700 cash infusion that I supply them approximately yearly, oh, and my $200/month (family-wide) cellular bill... Oh, plus the fact that I've successfully convinced tens of people in the past,

      Hope they can live without that, too.

      You bet they can. say 3000/year? For 70-150GB per month? I pay $1500/year at least, and use maybe 15-20GB per YEAR.

      So yeah, you make them twice as much $, but use 10x as

    • by jbolden (176878)

      $70-150 g of cellular data probably cost them between $350-$1200 / month to provide. They will be thrilled to lose you as a customer. You are exactly the problem. You aren't paying for what you are using.

      • why would it cost them anything at all? The tower is already running, the backhaul is already laid, the proxies are already up, the air is just sitting there asking for 700mhz LTE to be passed through it.

        Only way it costs them is if there's someone else they can give that bandwidth to who will give them more money than you.

  • throttling (Score:4, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @06:44PM (#47540351) Homepage Journal

    I believe throttling is an appropriate response to this situation, so if you see any Verizon corporate officers, please let me know.

  • Yes there are a few preliminary requirements but they are all pretty common.
    First off you must have been with Verizon for a few years, great customer loyalty you have got there Verizon...
    Secondly you have to have used over 5 gigabytes that month. That is something you can do in about 5 hours, anyone who has even heard of throttling used that or many times that per week...
    The last one I know nothing about, but apparently Verizon has enough trouble with infrastructure that they are deploying throttling sc
  • At first I read about Verizon throttling their "unlimited data plan" customers and I got concerned.

    But then I read that the throttling will NOT affect the majority of customers who are paying over the odds for an unlimited data plan that they don't actually need. That's good. So long as they're not affected, things are okay. Please go ahead with your plans, Verizon!

  • I understand this is just about priority: once you reach a threshold, your traffic has lower priority than others. It seems a reasonable way of implementing unlimited plan on finite network capacity.
  • I could have sworn that part of the deal Verizon negotiated when buying the 700Mhz spectrum was that they would not be allowed to interfere with LTE data transfers of unlimited customers when connected via 700Mhz LTE. What happened to that?

    I can't wait to be done with Verizon. If a corporation could be diagnosed as insane, Verizon would be locked up. They're flaunting their new XLTE service, bragging about how fast you can move data then smacking down the small percentage of customers who are in a positi

    • Here's what you're missing. The article is about what happens when a tower hits maximum capacity for a moment.
      Suppose the hardware on the tower is capable of serving 1,000 people per second*. There are 1,050 people who want to download this second. Sorry, 50 people are going to have to wait one second. The tower can only handle 1,000. That's just a fact. They aren't "messing with" anything, that's just what the hardware is capable of.

      What Verizon has decided is that when there is an overload and someb

    • I can't wait to be done with Verizon.

      well, it's a good thing you have so many choices of other corporations running nationwide cellular networks that want you dumping your cable internet connection in favor of wireless spectrum coverage.

  • It does not matter how high and how unreachable you set your throttling. If there is a throttling it is not an unlimited data plan but a data plan with a CAP.

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