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Starting October 1, Verizon Will Include Unlimited 4G LTE Customers in “Network Optimization”

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Back in September of 2011, Verizon introduced a new initiative called Network Optimization that only affected unlimited data customers. What is Network Optimization? Well, it’s a little bit like throttling in that Verizon can slow down your data connection if you meet a list of factors, because they don’t want you to ruin the data experience for the rest of their customers.

The thing is, up until now, Network Optimization only affected the 3G connection of those with unlimited data plans. Since most of you are all on 4G LTE now, it really didn’t matter much. But according to sources of ours, along with at least one reader who has been notified of the change, LTE will become a part of the “optimization” starting October 1. Like before, this only affects unlimited data customers.

This is what we know. 

On October 1, Verizon will expand its existing Network Optimization policy to include unlimited data customers who use 4G LTE devices and “have fulfilled their minimum contract term.” That “optimization” occurs when an unlimited data customer meets specific criteria and hops onto a cell site that is experiencing high demand. This is only a temporary reduction, not a billing cycle throttle. Once that customer leaves the cell site under stress, their connection should return to normal.

Update:  The policy is changing somewhat on how long you could be throttled. From information we have received from sources (and now reflected on Verizon’s own policy), the throttling could last through a current billing cycle and on to the end of the next, should a user be on a cell site experiencing high demand. This is the exact wording for the potential throttling – “The customer may continue to be impacted for the rest of the current billing cycle and through the next billing cycle, but only while on a cell site that is experiencing high demand.”

In order to see reduced speeds, you have to be a customer that meets all of the criteria below (again, ALL of the criteria):

  • Top 5% of data users (you use 4.7GB of data per month or more)
  • Enrolled on an unlimited data plan or feature
  • Have fulfilled their minimum contract term
  • Are attempting to use data on a cell site that is experiencing high demand

According to Verizon’s Network Optimization page, as of March 2014, you qualify as being in the top 5% if you use 4.7GB of data or more per month. That could fluctuate over time, though we aren’t sure how often Verizon updates this number.

If you are worried that you may be impacted by Network Optimization, Verizon has options for you, though you you may not love them:

  • Migrate to a MORE Everything plan or usage based data feature
  • Use your device’s Wi-Fi options
  • Use VZW tools to track and manage data usage:
  • View real-time data use information on My Verizon and My Verizon Mobile
  • Predict data needs by using Verizon’s Data Calculator
  • Install the Data Usage Widget (available on most smartphones)
  • Dial #DATA from the device to receive a text with data use information

Beginning August 1, Verizon will notify its customers of this change with the following message:

Wireless strives to provide its customers with the best wireless experience when using our network. In 2011, Verizon Wireless launched Network Optimization, which slows the data speeds of its unlimited data subscribers with 3G devices who are in the top 5% of data users when they connect to a cell site experiencing high demand. Effective October 1, Verizon Wireless will expand its existing Network Optimization policy to include its unlimited data subscribers using 4G LTE devices who have fulfilled their minimum contract term. Based on your plan and recent data usage, one or more lines on your account may experience a reduction in data speeds when connected to a cell site experiencing high demand. Customers on MORE Everything or other usage-based data plans are not subject to Network Optimization. For more information about our Network Optimization, please refer to www.verizonwireless.com/networkoptimization.

The changes on Verizon’s site to reflect this move are already taking place. Take a look at the screenshots below of Verizon’s Network Optimization page today compared to what it looked like back on July 20. There used to be references all over it to Network Optimization only affecting those with 3G connections, and that if you wanted to avoid being throttled you should buy an LTE device. But now, those references have all been removed. The new page is setup perfectly to cover all unlimited data users, including those with 4G LTE connections.

verizon network optimization

Again, this only affects 5% of their unlimited data customers, which are those who use more than 4.7GB of data per month (as of March 2014). In order to experience the “optimization” or slowness, you also have to meet other criteria. This is not a full billing cycle throttle, it is only temporary until you leave a cell site that is under high stress. Edit: It could actually be for more than one billing cycle, if on a cell site under high demand.

Just wanted you to be aware.

Update 2:  Verizon has made the news official.

  • Kyle Daniels
  • Jrock

    As I read more and more comments people seem to be pissed at large data users and blaming it on those users for data throttling. Its unlimited data meaning you can use it as you please. Keyword (UNLIMITED) I use large amounts of data as well on occasions but as I stated on another comment I pay my bill JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!!!

  • We bought cellphones based on being offered UNLIMITED NON-THROTTLED data plans. This is an absolute bait and switch. Just waiting for the class action lawsuit to place Verizon back in their place.

  • Ricky

    Throttle me all you want. I won’t stop using my unlimited data. Period.

  • S Prime

    Have you ever questioned the fairness and business practices of your US Wireless Provider? If so, you may want to view the petition at We the People asking President Obama to direct the FCC to demand that US Wireless Providers follow the “Network Neutrality Transparency Rule. This portion of Net Neutrality has been upheld by federal courts and is not in question in the proposed changes for Net Neutrality. Once we have 150 votes for the petition it will be placed on the We the People website and once it receives 100,000 votes, the Government will address the petition. The petition directly addresses throttling, but it will open the door to much larger concerns. Click on the We the People below or this is the direct link to the petition: http://wh.gov/luRVa

  • GW Norman

    got a mot x for 180 a new one

  • GW Norman

    i just change to xlet net work i hope its better

  • Chris Grissom

    So where can we find out information an where the “high demand cell sites” are?

  • Sevensinz_26

    if you have several lines under you like me who have 2 unlimited lines and 3 not unlimited, when it comes time to upgrade your unlimited line you just switch the upgrade to a line without unlimited, youll keep your unlimited on that line, get yourself a discounted phone, switch that phone back to your unlimited line and then wa la you have a new phone but keep your unlimited as well…loop hole loop hole.. Ive done it for both of my unlimited lines before and it works…

  • Mike Braswell

    I have been with Verizon for over 10 years and I used to have unlimited data then I went to my Note 3 and LOVED it. Until now. I have the 6 gig data plan and I go to the limit every month and never go over it. Now Verizon is telling me because I use 4.75 gigs a month my service is going to be throttled back? I pay to have that service and I can use it for whatever I want. I cannot wait until my plan is up next March. Adios Verizon. Jackasses.

    • ja

      mate, how many times does this article mention customers who “used to have” an unlimited data plan?

  • William Hunt

    I completely understand why VZW is doing this, I don’t agree with it, but I understand. The problem as I see it though is those of us who went out of our way to keep our unlimited data are now getting hosed. I average 8GB/month any my wife averages 4. I take the bus to work most days and stream Netflix or am reading news and stuff. For me I couldn’t afford to not have the unlimited data. We just moved to a new home where we can get a better home internet connection (our old place was out in the sticks so it was faster to tether my phone from the bus than it was to use my home satellite internet) so I’m expecting my usage to drop quite a bit, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get under their 4.7GB high usage number. We’ll see how it plays out though

  • cg

    I have a question and hopefully someone can answer it.

    I have three Unlimited Data lines. I also have two basic/dumb phone lines that are under contract because I did alternate upgrade on both. Since I am technically under contract on the dumb phone lines, does this mean that the Network Optimization would not apply to me? And if it does not apply to me, does this mean I can cancel my contract on both dumb phones ETF-free since the Network Optimization plan would have an “adverse effect” on me?

    Verizon sees $217 a month from me for having five lines. One line I don’t even use (a hot spot with Unlimited Data) just in case I need Internet in an emergency or if I am traveling and want to use the laptop or something. I can easily save oodles of loot by going to T-Mobile (which is not terrible in most major metros.) But Verizon has a stable network…but I have no qualms leaving them if I have to…

  • Jeremy Damnatei

    Some people need to get a life and quit jerking off to porn everyday using 100gb a day. Leave your pee pee alone and get off your phones and quit tethering to your laptops. For fuxx sakes!!!

  • Anthony

    I’m pretty sure this is already happening. I’ve been having this problem since April of this year on one specific tower that covers my job as well as the biggest mall in the area and a lot of other businesses. If I travel a distance as small as about a mile in either direction it works fine, but when I come back the data gets really slow again. It usually starts to slow about 8 every morning. I can’t load an Instagram feed, send a picture message… and definitely, no streaming of any type. I’ve called VZW and they sad that someone would look into it. I got a few text messages from someone and that was it. Nothing changed. The rep said that it was a huge area and to pretty much just deal with it. It all makes sense now.

  • J. Town

    I could have sworn the terms of their purchase of the 700Mhz spectrum specifically prohibits interfering with 700Mhz LTE service for existing, unlimited customers. Also, I find it hard to believe that 22% of customers have hung onto their unlimited service. I also find it hard to believe that unlimited customers average 4.7 gigs/cycle. The whole thing smacks of BS.

  • SG

    well.. this is the last straw that broke the camel’s back.. bye verizon.

  • Robert

    I can’t afford their service if I move to the more everything plan. We use the unlimited for our home internet. They don’t even have a plan for over 300gb a month. It will cost us over $3,000 a month on the more everything plan. That doesn’t include our phone usage either. So it’s either back to low speed DSL or to the inconsistent speeds of cable.