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

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 ___!