Following their announcement made in February that the company would be throttling data for the top 5% of its users, Verizon has officially started what they call “Network Optimization Practices,” just in time for the iPhone 5 launch sometime next month.

These “Network Optimization Practices” consist of reducing the data speed of the top 5% of Verizon users, a.k.a those who are on an unlimited data plan and use more than 2GB of data per month…

Verizon sent the following email to its customer:

“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.

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.”

So yeah, technically it’s still unlimited data, but at a lower speed once you hit the 2GB mark.

Data throttling is already used in many countries around the world, and like it or not, it’s not going away. With devices such as the iPhone getting more and more data-hungry, this was a predictable move from major carriers.

AT&T also announced a couple months ago that it will also throttle data for its top 5% users. Even though Sprint has been priding itself in its truly unlimited data plans, they will most likely follow AT&T and Verizon’s lead should they get the iPhone 5 this year as rumored.

[Droid Life]