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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.

  • MWisBest

    Chances are they’re including every single line in that data count, even those without data plans, and there are plenty of people who just have the rock-bottom amount of data possible too. If they threw out all the people using less than 500MB per month that 4.7GB number skyrockets, I’d estimate at least 8GB.

  • Frawlz

    I signed a 2 year agreement and kept my unlimited data plan. I was able to to it with the site glitch and picked up a MotoX.

    Because it says you have to have fulfilled your current agreement… does that mean I’m not part of this slow down?

  • Paul jon

    At least when I was on att with unlimited data and foolishly made the switch my iphone could surf and tAlk at the same time. These companies are getting greedy and trying to disguise their motives as doing a service ” network optimization” ha!!! If you THROTTLED everyone to a gig a month you’d still find a reason to optimize. “Signal” not collude with the other carriers, buy off a few congressmen, and spend the millions you make to market the obviously inferior plan. Let’s get real in the age of the digital native a 160mb a day is comical, and with wages for the avg joe so low … No one could afford an adequate plan

  • John Friend

    This really pisses me off. I have 2 lines with grandfathered unlimited and 3 feature phones. We have always made sure we connect to wifi whenever it was available even if the connection was slower than 4g. We generally only use 2-5gbs per line. It seems like once or twice per year there will be some sort of trip or emergency and we will use 10-15gbs on only one of the lines.

    I almost feel like I need to be a dick and just tether my heart out but I don’t want to ever be flagged as one of the data hogs. I do want more clarification about the being in contract part. I bet we never will get official news on if we are still in a contract if that makes us exempt. I’ve seen several comments about switching upgrades. As it stands right now we would need to use up 2 more upgrades to have the smartphones under contract again.

    Is there a way to switch upgrade dates and make it stick without actually upgrading? As it stands right now our two smartphones and 1 feature phone are not in a contract. I would like to switch the dates to both of the smartphone lines. Thoughts?

  • Paul jon

    This is absurd! I spent 750 for my iphone when my contract ended to keep my unlimited plan . My bill remained the same even thought no phone was being subsidized. I pay an extra $30 a month in order to get unlimited 4g hotspot service. I only did this to remain unthrottled! Verizon’s plans are more expensive then everyone else and here in Atlanta all the other major carriers are just as capable.

  • Trill316

    The Verizon data service has been so bad for me lately i’ve been forced to use wifi more and more. which is very hard when wifi isnt around.

  • albert5x5

    I use my phone a lot on the road, so good solid WiFi isn’t always readily available. Not to mentiom the slight security risks of using public WiFi. Streaming / Downloading music, YouTube, Email, and Facebook are what I do the most. I do almost 8GB a month. If I went to their share everything model, I’ll be paying more than I do now for what I’m currently using my phone for. My phone which is the fantastic but Verizon exclusive Droid Maxx. So October will be an interesting month for my phone…

  • pruett89

    As a RF Engineer I can say with great certainty that QOS(Quality of Service) policies have already been doing things like this to users in congested areas. There are hundreds of thresholds that can be set to direct traffic from on site to another as well as adjust user queues that determine when and how quickly different users get their data. This is an attempt by Verizon to keep the users informed, but there is no doubt that they have already been doing some type of traffic management before.

    I know the smartest way to do this would be by putting these “heavy” users at the back of the line to be served. This way if the cell site is lightly loaded you can still get the peak speeds you are used to, but during times of intense congestion you would simply have to wait behind other users who do not have an unlimited plan/requested data before you did. Since data is delivered to distinct users every milliseconds and VZW speeds are already quite high, it shouldn’t be a massive change. In this scenario you would not be speed limited, but instead you would be waiting a bit longer, which is interpreted as slowness.

    So its really not going to be something that will make you want to go crazy or file a law suite – IMHO

  • Razma

    Verizon is trying REALLY hard to kill off their unlimited data customers

  • chris125

    Average is 4.7 yet 2gb is base. Makes sense. Verizon needs to up their tiers, no reason 4/5gb can’t be at same price as 2gb is

    • Rodeojones000

      I get 6 GB for the price of 2 GB on Verizon.

      • Dominick

        i get ∞gb for the price of 2gb on verizon

        • flosserelli

          *and unthrottled

  • King of Nynex

    4.7 GB? One high-def show on Netflix is like 750MB.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    I meet everyone of those criteria except “Are attempting to use data on a cell site that is experiencing high demand” – but I am sure they can make that up as they please as how can you prove otherwise if they say you were on a high demand tower?

    And 4.7gb is “top 5%”? Are you kidding me? Funny how it is just under a 5gb tier also.

    total scam.

  • karpodiem

    I’m very interested in what the % utilization at a site triggers throttling – VZ could get very creative with this number or they could abuse it by throttling you without the site being anywhere close to being at capacity.

    The only people at VZ who know how this will work is corporate (that sets the % utilization number) and the network engineers that are actually implementing it. I’ve pinged David Young (https://twitter.com/daedyo) at VZ to ask that Verizon give us a % utilization at a cell site before throttling. That is absolutely the most important aspect of all of this.

    They will not throttle you unless the site is at capacity. What % utilization of maximum capacity is that? We need to press VZ on this issue, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. But the more people repeat it, the more it might gain some traction.

  • Turb0wned

    LOL, greedy cell phone companies.

    I bet 98% of you people on here that said “when verizon tries to screw me on my unlimited plan i’m switching,” aren’t actually going to switch,

  • BoFiS

    What a load of bullshit…I used like 16GB last month, in what world is the TOP 5% only 4.7GB? Obviously the 22% of us still with unlimited data need to be using MORE to push that number up ;-)

  • Bruce

    Well, there goes my Google Music streaming while I’m driving….

  • guest

    The site doesn’t say what the screenshot says in this article. It still states on 3g devices.

    • flosserelli

      Nope. Read the linked page again. The policy does not distinguish between 3G and 4G devices. Regardless of device, “if you are consistently in the top 5% on an unlimited data plan, you will continue to be subject to Network Optimization when connected to a cell site experiencing high demand.”

  • d-rock

    Let the whining and crying begin!

    • flosserelli

  • saradduclos

    Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

    ✒✒✒✒✒✒ Jobs700.Com

    ============================

  • Dominik Rozek

    Game On Verizon! My mission is to use as much data as possible now.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v446/drozek/Capture_zps36a64c00.jpg

    • Adrynalyne

      That will show Verizon.

    • Drago

      Yeah. Because bragging about how much data you use makes you a cool dude.

      Its people like you who get these rules enacted. Grow up.

      • Adrynalyne

        While I’m sure Verizon is quaking in their boots for what he is doing them, don’t be fooled by greedy business practices. Verizon was posting record profits when unlimited data was still a plan option.

        They enact these rules to increase profit further, not staunch their losses. They are doing this to push the remaining unlimited users out. If you listen to pandora on a somewhat regular basis, you know how easy it is to meet their top 5% user base.

  • RustyTechGuy

    Apparently I don’t use my smartphone enough its either that or I spend most of my time connected to WiFi but last month I tried to run up my data just to see what I could muster before I lose my sanity. I can only tolerate a certain amount of cellphone usage before I just put it down. I guess after you work on computers all day you get kind of burned out with it just bit. But anyway I only managed to hit 2.3 GB.

    • M3D1T8R

      Your 2.3GB is about what I use in an average day. That’s the same as one movie on Netflix. Just an hour or so per day of Netflix will easily add up to over 30GB/mo. Even just streaming music a bit each day can add up to 5 or 10GB. You know, the exact things the carriers advertised 4G as being built for, and how they sold it.

      • RustyTechGuy

        I guess I don’t use my phone for Netflix, just the occasional Youtube video. Also I don’t stream audio to my phone either. It is a little discouraging when they market all the things you can do with your phone only to find out that unless you pay dearly for large amount of data or you live on wifi you never will experience most of it.

    • ultravisitor

      I have a feeling that a lot of people who use tons of data are people who are too cheap to pay for home internet service.

      • http://deepbluewatches.com GoHockey

        Or are people who work and their company doesn’t allow streaming of music on their networks so they use their data.

  • SJ

    Alright, all of you guys are pissed off and such, but I’ve been upset since Smartphones came to Verizon. Why on earth do I need a Data Plan at ALL form you? All I want is WiFi Service at home or work… otherwise, not needed. Especially with 1-2 gb allowed… I can find MANY things better to spend $30/mo on.

  • patrick

    Streaming music to and from work (2 hours/day) puts me close to 20 every month. I doubt so many customers never touch 5GB. Seems hypocritical to push steaming music, online gaming and movies when you also have to stay off their network.

    • monkeybutts

      Streaming music shouldn’t be a problem that uses very little data per second compared to streaming video. It does something like 0.064 Mbps for low quality to 0.320 Mbps for high quality.

      • patrick

        That’s not what I get. Streaming high quality on Google Music,I’ve used 1.52GB in 3 days as well as almost 1GB for podcasts. Hope you don’t have a tiered data plan and are streaming high quality stuff.

      • http://deepbluewatches.com GoHockey

        Wrong. 8 hour work day*5 days per week is about 16-20 GB’s per month.

        • monkeybutts

          Those are per second download rates being throttled doesn’t mean your speeds go to zero. Yes after a few hours it does stack up but being throttled you should be able to stream it, at least on AT&T throttled it is usable, and it was on T-mobile as well (on low quality) before they did music freedom.

    • dsDoan

      Hypocritical isn’t the correct term. They aren’t telling you not to use a lot of data; they’re telling you: “If you want to use a lot of data, give us more money.”

  • Detonation

    Looks like I might be taking advantage of the Best Buy loophole to keep unlimited data on contract now…

  • DanThompson87

    Has anyone else noticed a drop to 3g in a 4g network? happens to me all the time have to toggle airplane mode to get back on 4G. I’m convinced its VZW because it happened on my GS4 and now my GS5.

    • hkklife

      Well, that exact same thing has been happening to me increasingly over the last 7-8 months, both with my GS3 and Note 3. I swapped the first Note 3 out and my connectivity drops improved but I still spend as much time in 3G as in LTE. I initially attributed it to Samsund and their s****y radios but then a friend with an HTC One commented on the same thing…

      • M3D1T8R

        Get the app PhoneInfo(Ad) by SC@Taiwan. If it works with your device, it allows you to force LTE or whatever mode you want. Also shows signal details etc. I use it constantly (especially in weak signal areas).

    • M3D1T8R

      See my reply below about that app. Might be useful for you.

  • pubasnacks77

    Well this blows

  • TheUI

    To all you folks that are currently on this “T-Mobile Cares about customers!” speil, I implore you to explore

    http://www.loweringthebarforus.org

    T-Mo is a turd company that foing everythjng it can to degrade the customer experience/service. Not all that glitters is gold.

    • David Benson

      I switched over to T-Mobile in March from Verizon Unlimited data. I have had nothing but better than VZ customer service and customer experience. I live in a populated area so the coverage has been better than VZ going to T-Mobile.

      • Eldorath

        Same experience here. Switched to TMO last December.. and it’s been stellar with regards to customer service.

    • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

      You’re sorely mistaken sir, my own personal experience with T-Mobile customer service over the past 14 has been nothing short of stellar. I don’t need an article to tell me otherwise.

      • TheUI

        It’s not an article, it’s an organization fighting for workers rights.

  • Randy Lee Martin

    I have unlimited and use an average of 6gb a month and obviously I meet the rest of the criteria….I’m STILL not letting go of my unlimited….take that VZW!!

  • Chippah

    And here it starts!

  • flosserelli

    What good is “unlimited data” when you are forced into the slow lane?

    • dsDoan

      Slowed unlimited data is still unlimited data. Slowed unlimited data is adequate for most basic online needs: Web surfing, email, chat, small app downloads, etc. Unlimited data remains far superior to any plan Verizon offers at the same cost.

  • Just saying

    Here is a option just go over to a prepaid carrier then you exspect them to throttle you after you data allotment and stop paying for verizon service. Cricket Wireless uses att network now and you can bring your unlocked phones that are gsm compatible verizon lte phones cause alot of verizons lte phones are world phones such as iphone 5,5c,5s galaxy s3, s4,s5,note 2, note 3

  • http://www.twitter.com/nblufire12 Nathan Patel

    Welp. I have used 17 gigs this month….woe is me

  • Aldr01d

    PHUCK U VERIZON

  • stayflyer

    Damn I do 50gb by myself and wifey does 15gb. Damn been with vzw for 13yrs. I’ve tried tmobile sucks, and att sucks and the same price as Verizon! Come Oct I’ll see how things turn out.

  • Quint

    My usage looks so minute compared to you guys! But, I’d qualify to be throttled:since I am pushing 8GB with 9 days remaining in the cycle. Last month, I used over 16 GB. The months before, I have consistently used over 6 GB. I have no plans to leave unless the data plan is taken away.

  • AUSTEEEZZZ

    I crush 40gb to 50gb a month

  • Don

    “Have fulfilled their minimum contract term” so if I have two lines and use cross upgrades to keep unlimited data as long as one line is under contract I won’t affected? Or will I need both lines under a two year contract? Or am I misunderstanding the whole concept

    • M3D1T8R

      I’m interpreting it as, any line you have unlimited on, that specific line won’t need throttled as long as it’s under contract. This is why I just upgraded my unlimited line by transferring its upgrade to another line and doing an upgrade. I’m still worried they’ll just end up throttling everyone (unlimited) anyway, since they’re evil.. But a least this way I’m going by what they claim according to this article, so maybe I’ll have a chance.
      Really, by law they shouldn’t be able to throttle LTE per their agreement with the FCC (when they got their LTE bandwidth). Maybe that applies only when customers are in their contracts, and hence why they’re doing it this way. I guess we’ll see in a couple months.

    • monkeybutts

      It could mean anything their lawyers want it to mean. Could mean your original 2 year contract since people have been going through loopholes to keep unlimited.

  • SomeDooD

    FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

  • http://www.DavidPat.com David Pat

    I only get 3 mbps down in San Diego anyways. Don’t see how they can throttle me more.

    • Ryan Dombroski

      They will throttle you and you will get 1.5 mbps lol

  • Caleb Rodriguez

    I can’t believe they had the audacity to say “use your smart phone’s WiFi options.” Like they have anything to do with that at all. They’re one step away from not being worth it as a wireless provider.

  • Randy

    I have 4 unlimited month to month lines on my family plan. I only pay $180 per month in total plus taxes. I want to keep unlimited on all of them. I don’t want or need a new phone (already have the S5). Can I just call up Verizon and say I want to renew my contract for 2 more years to keep unlimited for 2 more years? At least on 1 of the lines? If others on my family plan want to use an upgrade later they can still upgrade at discounted pricing in the future and lose their unlimited data. But I don’t have any tiered data lines to transfer upgrades. What is the best advice in my situation?

    • ultravisitor

      No. You cannot renew your contract AND keep unlimited. That option does not exist.

  • Kayonesoft

    No matter how much data everyone uses, there’s always going to be a top 5%.

  • Disqus_n00b

    I’d rather be throttled after 5-10 GB than this unknown, arbitrary “when WE feel demand is high”

    • monkeybutts

      well it’s better than being throttled 100% of the time on Sprint

      • Joseph M.

        Hilarbeeus, not! Sprint’s going to have network vision some year, and when they do, they’ll be the best, you’ll see.

        Just kidding, Sprint sucks.

    • Ryan Dombroski

      10 seems logical — but 4.7?

  • Kayonesoft

    So to reward long time customers who have fulfilled their contractual obligations and are continuing to pay unsubsidized premium on their service, they’re going to reduce the quality of the service they provide for that same premium price.

    Verizon can go throttle themselves.

  • akhnaten

    I am so glad I left Vzw.

  • Kizaru Hiruko

    So, Verizon kills off the Device Payment Plan, locks bootloaders, won’t allow Nexus devices on their network, piles on a ton of bloatware onto their devices, delays software updates, and now throttles heavy data users? It’s starting to sound like I should switch to T-Mobile. If only T-Mo had a decent network…

  • Zachary Wood

    I’m in trouble with my 30GB+ of data use a month…

    • grayson360

      Same :/.

    • Ryan Dombroski

      same

  • Ashley

    They are already doing this. I have been throttled for the past 2 months. The speed drops to 0.2MB/s.

    • Ryan Dombroski

      They cant throttle you that muck can they?

    • mlb

      same here, 0.2MB/s is what they throttle you back to.

  • Michael Singer

    I am the 5%

  • sski66

    First it sounds & feels like discrimination for Unlimited Data customers. Just because it’s just a “small % of customers” doesn’t make it alright. I’m an Unlimited customer, have been since the jump, around 14 years. Even though I do have Unlimited this won’t affect me but I got to say 4.7 GB sounds REALLY LOW to start getting throttled, I feel 10GB would be a FAIR #, but we all know who we’re dealing with, & we all knew this was coming. Verizon has 1 more step to take then Unlimited will be gone, & I hope a whole shitload of customers too. I also think this post below by Ryan Dombroski has a great point.