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As of Yesterday Verizon Started Throttling its Top 5% Data Hogs, Doesn’t Affect 4G LTE or Tiered Data Customers

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Back in February, there were reports of Verizon’s plans to start throttling (data speeds reduced) or using “Network Optimization Practices” on their top data hogs (5%).  Policies like this clearly are not taken well by customers, however, until today we had heard very little about them.  In our inbox, we just received word from Big Red on this new practice with every little detail you could imagine.  I’ll just say up front that the policy sounds like the end of the world, but from our understanding, it will only affect 3G customers on unlimited data plans.

Here is the main note we received showing that this new practice went live as of yesterday:

Beginning 9/15, we will start identifying customers who meet these criteria and will expand to others in the base after customer communications are completed. Network Optimization Practices only goes into effect when an Internet or Smartphone device with an unlimited plan/feature falls into the top 5% of data usage and is on a congested cell site.

Here is how the throttling “optimization” process will work:

Verizon Wireless is always looking for ways to give customers the superior experience they expect from our network – an amazing resource that – shared by tens of millions of customers. To achieve this, customers within the top 5% of Verizon Wireless data users, may have their data speeds periodically reduced. This reduction will last for the remainder of the current billing cycle as well as the one immediately following. This is to make sure all users enjoy high quality network performance even when on a congested cell site.

Who could potentially fall under this new practice?  Customers who meet all of the following:

  • Have a 3G internet or 3G smartphone
  • Have an unlimited or feature data plan
  • Are among the top 5% of data users
  • Are on a congested cell site

Reps are being told to offer these as solutions to customers who want to avoid throttling:

  • Upgrade to a 4G LTE smartphone
  • Migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan
  • Use WiFi more often

Verizon also wants everyone to know that they are not “throttling” like AT&T and T-Mobile are:

The difference between our network optimization practice and throttling is about network intelligence. With throttling, your wireless connection is slowed down for your entire cycle, 100% of the time, no matter where you are. Network Optimization balances the best possible experience on the network and for the customer. Network Optimization Practices is more precise and requires more management than throttling, however it provides the greatest balance for everyone. So, if you’re in the top 5% of data users, your connection is slowed only when you are in a congested cell site.

AT&T recently announced that they will be throttling 5% of their top data users beginning in October.

In addition, TMobile will be throttling customers who use more than 5GB of data each month.

And that’s pretty much that.  As of yesterday, Big Red will start to slow down its top 5% data users for essentially two billing cycles.  We are only talking 3G unlimited data customers here though, so 4G LTE peeps can relax.  For now.

Update:  Verizon has populated their Data Optimization page with a full FAQ.

Update 2:  Verizon reached out to hopefully help clarify the situation a bit.  They want to be sure you all understand that they are not technically “throttling” their top 5%.  Actually, they still are essentially throttling, just not 100% of the time like some carriers do.  They will only reduce the top 5% of data users when they are on a congested site.  Here is the quote they gave:

If you’re in the top 5% of data users, your speed is reduced only when you are connected to a congested cell site. Once you are no longer connected to a congested site, your speed will return to normal.

Any questions?

Cheers ___!

  • Due to VZW throttling, they have now falsely advertised to its customers about the practicality or fuctionality of their 4G LTE phones and network. Vzw advertised that with the new more efficient network of the 4G LTE, streaming videos to a 4G LTE phone would be effectively possible. My throttled Razr Maxxx is now slower than what my old 3G Droid when it comes to data speed. I’d seriously rather things go back the way they were before without the 4G LTE. I smell a lawsuit coming. Companies like VZW, AT&T and T-Mobile are raping their loyal customers, because with the new broader bandwidth of the 4G networks, these companies are using less resources and money to operate what they can do now on a 3G network scale, but now charge customers the same for a throttled data speed thats practically worthless for streaming videos and too damn much for a tiered data plan. Me personally it would cost me a good $200 in data fees to do now what i have had for years since pda phones were a thing.

  • One pissed off American

    I think this is complete garbage. It’s everyones right to get what you pay for, this “network optimization” was not part of my contract when I signed up for service. I hate to be selfish, I dont care how many other users I should be concerned about sharing bandwidth….they are not paying my cellphone bill. A rip off at $130 a month. VZ should take the millions of dollars they are ripping off their customers and put it towards an upgraded network infrastructure. Not ceo, cto, board of directors multi-million dollar retirement bonuses etc.

  • mjoinsd

    Love your feminine pink theme here….. That was sarcasm.

  • drpains

    Again and again isp’s want to steal from paying customers and customers online. also isp’s want to hinder inovation. The idea that your account you pay for is a community account. This type of thinking is nonsense. You pay for internet as a account addressed to you. if a isp wants to offer a speed up/down, the speed up and down should be able to run 24/7 365 as the customer chooses to access it. Bandwidth caps and throttling aka network management is not fair use its actual false advertising and not being realistic with. with internet need and usage for customers, business online and inovation online. It disgusting that isp’s want to cheat customers and force customers back to advertisment tv like cable and satelite. government pays for roads and should fund. internet building to expand abilities and allow any atartup isp to offer internet. instead of the current monopoly that wants to halt liberty freedom and inovation online.

  • FivePercenter

    The problem with this “first comments first” system is that no one will read this. Having said that:
    I am currently using Verizon 4G LTE on a Droid Bionic with a grandfathered unlimited plan. I was experiencing slow buffering on YouTube videos to the point of not being able to view them. I ran the SpeedTest app and found out that my downstream was .48 Mbps on 4G. Switched to 3G; 2.00 Mbps. I know it’s not an outage of any sort because my 4G upstream was 6+ Mbps.
    I don’t doubt that I would be in the top 5% of my towers’ users, but I don’t think at 3 AM there is a huge demand on the Verizon infrastructure.

    If Verizon claims to not throttle 4G, they are lying. I’m a Verizon 4G LTE customer with speeds that are a fraction of their 3G speeds. I am the 5%.

  • datahog99

    Geez.  I guess im a hog.  I am at 72GB and this is only my 16/30 day of the month

  • Jkeyser21

    The reason they shut the unlimited phones down is so they can make money by “allowing” the limited plans to go over….. just like as they team up with the free apps programs that require “a lot of data usage” for a simple app.  It’s all about you going over your allowed plan so they can charge you overages!!

  • Mo128

    I dumped Comcast because I watch a limited amount of TV — like only CNBC and BBC. I obviously have a phone, and Verizon 4G was jumping up and down saying the unlimited for 4G was indeed unlimited and without “throttling.”
    This weekend I began to feel the throttling. If it persists I will drop them like a hot rock as I did Comcast. I have been a VZW customer ever since Cingular bought AT&T Wireless division in the PacNW. We sold millions into that company, and suddenly I had no service on their own campus! Next day I was a VZW customer.
    There is no loyalty on Earth. Only family, and then ???

  • Feb 2012: guess what, Verizon throttled me exactly at the 4GB data point
    and I’m on an UNLIMITED data plan as one of the first adopters of 4G
    LTE Samsung Droid.  A Verizon tech told me they throttle users based on
    rate of usage, i.e. how quickly you use the 4GB.  If you use it in a
    week then look out.  Download speed dropped from around 6mbs to under
    0.2mbs.  They may have other criteria also.  This is the first time in
    years that I have ever used data at that rate, so I’m not an “abuser”.  I
    use my phone in tethered and mobile hotspot modes. I don’t recall
    seeing any warning of this in any of their advertising or policies, did

  • Searles O’Dubhain

    I use the unlimited data plan on a 3G and have been throttled continuously since the throttling went into effect. I only use my connection for Skype video calls to my wife and some browsing which results in (according to Verizon) about 6 gb of data bandwidth per month. Since the cellphone tower I use most often is located at the intersection of two major freeways, it is always “congested.”

    Amazingly enough, if I use my Droid2 as a WiFi hotspot, I almost get 3G speeds at that time, however (again according to Verizon) I use up about 3 gb of bandwidth in 2 weeks just using Skype video calls to my wife (maybe 2 hours max per day).

    I think their data optimization plan is not well thought out and seems to be based on stale information. I also think their usage statistics are fudged to their benefit without anyone actually being able to monitor them or regulate their practices.

    Needless to say we are looking into other services when our contract expires in April. Being one of the 5% is something I think everyone should get used to as corporate greed expands to fill the available space. It’ll soon be everyone that is being throttled based on the bottom line of their P/L statement (and we’re not talikgn reasonable profits here).

  • They are throttling the data speeds on my USB internet device, and the embedded Verizon chip in one of my laptops. I have a legacy unlimited plan (no longer offered), and I watch a lot of Hulu when I am on the road. I notice speeds dropping mid-month. With all the coverage the cell phone data plan throttling is getting, no one is talking about the internet devices used for PCs. 

    I also have a run a command line ping constantly to keep my connection established.

    It is amazing that as technology advances, greed is actually moving us BACKWARDS in this area. My internet was routinely faster three years ago. Now I feel I am back to dialup. 

  • Voip-small-business
  • Prozac4me

    I’m astonished that i’m hearing people say, it’s fair?!?  I’m not sure about you, but when unlimited means, no limitations!  I’m not sure what dictionary Verizon used to offer unlimited data plans!  I’m actually one of the persons that have an unlimited data plans, and I watch a lot of movies, and test linux OS’s, so I download around 30gb monthly.  This is strictly GREED!  If people like me are considered data hogs, and my network habits effect others, then maybe Verizon shouldn’t sale service as unlimited, and then blame connectivity problems on other users!  AOL did the same thing in the 90’s when they sold service to every Tom, Dick, & Harry, and then nobody could get online!

    I don’t see Verizon crediting my account, when I don’t use all my minutes…  It’s simply corporate greed, and what blows me away, is that they get people to swallow their crap!  If my download habits effect others, then they network optimizing should be to quit selling service to people, so their current customers won’t be effected, not point fingers at other users, and then penalize people for what they contractually obliged to do!!

    Start crediting my account when I don’t use all my minutes, or go over my data usage on my other phones!

  • Ryan Aman

    I have no issue with them throttling when you’re in the 5%, however I do have an issue with the announcement coming in the middle of the month.  I average 1.8 gb of data per month, but I moved at the beginning of the month and have not been able to have a reliable wifi because of interference and have had to rely on 3G at home instead of using wifi as I generally do.  This has caused me to get to 1.8 gb already, but I am probably already in the top 5% in my market…

    Now I would have greatly appreciated being informed by verizon at the beginning of the month notifying users that they would begin to be affected by this service.  You wouldn’t wait until the middle of the month to tell someone they are limited to driving 50 miles after they’d already driven 45, you would tell them at the begging of the month so they could modify their behavior to accommodate for this change.

  • I can’t upgrade to a 4G LTE yet – I’m not due to upgrade until November. Is Verizon allowing us to upgrade early without costs? 

  • Anonymous


  • I’m def. in it! I wrote on a forum ( i wish i could remember which one it was so i could jus copy and paste it) but way before Verizons throttling plan was even getting works i was recieving emails from top Verizon offices about my usage! They were pretty much telling me that i was using way to much data and they were gonna be watching my usage very closely. I do believe that legally or not they began throttling my data then. and this was mayb a year-year and a half ago! I do also remember my gaming speeds going from like 3.5-4Mb to like 1.5. At this time i turned my home internet off bcuz the price for school, gas, my phone bill, bills and other expenses were to much so i just used my phone for eveything it was capable of. So i dont think i was wrong for doing this at all. I paid for it, so why not use it when i’m in need of its services. Were getting penalized for actually using our phone for everything there capable of! Verizon makes these great (actually subpar compared to some) phones, and even worse plans that if you acutally use the features given you either get throttled or charged extra -_- BS!

  • Gary

    Do you have an idea as to how many GB the top 5% are using per month?



  • Themrjustinjones

    My Verizon 3G speeds stay around .5 mb/s I feel like I have been throttled from day one. Verizon you suck, I think you guys actually have to many customers and your trying to get some people to bounce. Its working

  • Craigg

    VZW told all that had unlimited broadband on their accounts that they would be grandfathered in. Unfortunately VZW now considers 2GB to be unlimited which is fraud. I think if they continue along this path they will open themselves up to lawsuits. A reasonably prudent person would not agree that 2GB = Unlimited nor would they agree that unlimited broadband is equal to a slow throttled connection. VZW is just scamming the consumer. If they want to sell metered data why don’t they just price it fairly at $10 per GB and be done with all this fraud.

  • Gvyt36785

    TMobile will be throttling customers? That sounds like it’s going to hurt…

  • SFC Airborne51

    See this whole thing is screwed up. I just moved from NC to WA state and drove 2900 miles in 14 days. During that time I used my 3G Droid 2 to watch several Netflix movies when I stopped for the night. I also listened to my Sirius/XM on my Cellphone while driving through my truck speakers. This 14 days of use put me at almost 9GB of data for half a month. I wasn’t being a hog, I was not downloading torrents, I was just using the services that I pay for on a device that I pay for. Now knowing how stingy the allocations are by Big Red I will probably be in that top 5%. I did not have wifi to use while driving cross country. I did use it in some of the hotels but only in half of them because the wifi sucked so bad I couldn’t even stream Netflix but I could on 3G. My point is now I will be punished for using a service that I paid for to use two other services I paid for and how is that fair? I’ve been a Verizon customer for 13 years and if I notice that I get affected by this then my loyalty to them may be about to become very short lived….

  • Entanglement

    looks like i won’t be affected for now at least.
    last month total usage was 215gb using  mobile hotspot to support 3 laptops & ps3.
    i only did that because i was moving so i had to disconnect my comcast.
    for first 20days, i did about 10gb/day until i settled into new place.

  • Anonymous


  • Androidman

    I thought they considered 5gb+ top 5%? Now its 2gb what a joke i just checked and i am close to 3 gb and i maily just surf and check emails i use slacker about 5 hours a month maybe.

  • skinja

    Verizon is using the PUBLIC spectrum. They lease the spectrum from US, you and me, via the FCC. This move is a clear violation of their lease. Why isn’t anyone talking about this?

    • skinja99

      Especially considering that VZW is not hurting for money. They make billions each quarter. So they should be investing in their own hardware upgrades.

      Since it is not like following the terms of their spectrum lease will break their bank.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    If you have to ask if you are in the top 5% you are not. The people that are.. they know who they are.

  • Anonymous

    Alternate solution: Switch to Sprint.

  • howdy

    For now…

  • Anonymous

    This will be interesting to see if the new iphone is 3g only if they throttle those users and not lte customers. I could see some highly angry people and maybe even apple getting involved if they do.

  • BS, they’ve been throttling for months.  I’ve personally been effected and my major consumption is pandora and google music while driving my commute.  And that only makes me angrier considering that service in my area is spotty at best, in Lawrence, KS!  And we have an nightly 3g drop out from 12 am to 1:30 am, guessing for a system restart.  Just happens that is my peak time.  If big red wasn’t the only provider to reach my house at all I’d be gone yesterday.

  • schwadb

    Sorry folks, but if you use more than 2 GB of data a month, you’ll be effected according to Big Red.  See excerpt below that was taken from their website.

     How will I know if I’m in the top 5% of data users?
    As of August 2011, the top 5% of data users were using 2 GB or more of data each month. How do I know if I will be impacted by Network Optimization? A good rule of thumb as of September 2011 is this: If you’re on an unlimited data plan, have a 3G device and are using more than 2 GB of data in a month, you’re in the top 5% of data users and will be impacted by Network Optimization when you’re connected to congested 3G cell sites.  Starting at the end of August 2011, if you are on an unlimited plan, are a high data user and had a contract prior to February 3, 2011, we’ll notify you through bill messages and on your My Verizon account if you may be affected.  

    • Anonymous

      Yeah that is just for 3g devices only though. it seems they wont throttle 4g devices.

  • hatethanet

    “Unlimited Data” was ALWAYS a false description from these carriers. It’s just that back in the day before iPhones and Android phones, they could throw this term around with no danger of customers reaching their network’s capacity. How much data can one possibly use in one month on a crappy old flip-phone? As phones get more advanced and network speeds keep increasing, more and more people are gonna haveta get that word “Unlimited” out of their heads when it comes to data use on their phones. If you use a ton of data, then you’ll have to pay the price. There’s nothing anybody can do about it (except complain, of course).

  • Dr. Seuss

    This sounds like Clear network’s “optimization”…. The very reason why I ditched them to join big red’s LTE

  • Duck Dodgers

    Top 5% is a LOT of data, we’re talking 20+ gigs a month. Most of us can relax. It’s hard to hit that cap on my desktop much less my smartphone (yes I stream netflix from my home network). You have to be tethering constantly or using your phone as your only connection to the web.

    • Granted

      Yeah and I’ve said it before, if you’re just a cheap ass, and use your cell data plan as your only source of internet, well, who gives a shit! That sense of entitlement is bullshit anyways, and you should stop being a cheap bastard and pay for broadband or DSL.

    • Smtxom

      Yea, this month. Then next month the top 5% will be people that use 15gigs and so and so on until we get to the people that use a gig a month like me but don’t use it tethered or anything. Top 5% doesnt set a tangible limit that we can use to measure our use against. Its just a free pass for Big Red to continue to throttle the top users no matter the actual about of users.

      • Anonymous

        Not really because the next month they would go back up to 20+gb’s a month

        • Anonymous

          Do you understand how much mobile data use is increasing year-after-year?

          Given past growth, most mobile users will be busting through 2GB/month in 15 months.

          • Anonymous

            What does that have to do with anything I said?

          • Anonymous

            Because Verizon’s “data hog” label is supposedly for anyone who uses more than 2GB per month, not 20+ and Verizon is going to keep “redefining” the top 5% figure as their unlimited customers are behaviorally conditioned to use less and less data each month. This is done because Verizon is throttling for TWO billing cycles, not just one.


            Let’s say we have 100 users. The 5 biggest data hogs use over 5GB of data one month and they get throttled. 1 of them decides to cut their usage in half and the entire data hog mean goes down. The 5 biggest data hogs now use a lower average and Verizon’s 5% mark gets lowered. As the data hogs cut back their usage  out of fear of being throttled, that 5% line gets lower and lower and lower. It starts choking more and more users over time. Eventually, users that are pulling 2.1 GB per month get throttled… next month, it’ll be 2.05… and so on.

            It’s very dirty.

          • Anonymous

            yeah well most aren’t going to cut their data back they just will until they are not throttled anymore which would be next month so yeah like I said people are still going to use the same data right after they are throttled.

          • Anonymous

            First off, the data hogs are throttled for TWO billing cycles so after they get throttled, they literally CAN NOT use that much data until that 5% figure is redefined after that 2nd billing cycle.

            If your data speed goes from ~800 kbps to 12.5 kbps for a full month, you can’t use as much data even if your device is pulling 24/7. That 5% is automatically lowered because of that little fact. Mobile device battery life and behavior patterns for mobile data usage won’t allow it. In order to keep the effect from happening, around 5 million Verizon unlimited data customers would have to keep their phones on chargers and CONSTANTLY pull data 24/7 every month regardless of throttling. That just doesn’t happen.

  • Javajoe1981


    How will I know if I’m in the top 5% of data users?

    As of August 2011, the top 5% of data users were using 2 GB or more of data each month.

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