verizon wireless

Back in 2011, Verizon began throttling data output for the top 5% of its 3G customers on unlimited data plans. The carrier had just picked up the iPhone, and was in the process of rolling out its LTE network, so it needed a low-cost way to save bandwidth.

Fast forward to today, and Verizon issued a press release announcing a similar policy for LTE customers. Starting in October, the company plans to start “optimizing its network,” which is a nice way of saying it’s going to start throttling high-volume users…

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

While all major wireless carriers employ tools to manage the traffic on their networks, Verizon Wireless uses network intelligence to slow the speeds of only some of its heaviest users on unlimited data plans, and only when those users are connected to a cell site that is experiencing peak usage at that particular time. Once the heavy usage eases, or the user moves to a different cell site, the user’s speeds return to normal. Verizon Wireless’ practice of Network Optimization ensures that all customers have the best wireless data experience possible.

Starting in October 2014, Verizon Wireless will extend its network optimization policy to the data users who: fall within the top 5 percent of data users on our network, have fulfilled their minimum contractual commitment, and are on unlimited plans using a 4G LTE device. They may experience slower data speeds when using certain high bandwidth applications, such as streaming high-definition video or during real-time, online gaming, and only when connecting to a cell site when it is experiencing heavy demand. (Note: Does not currently apply to government or business accounts that have signed a major account agreement.)

Again, this will only affect the top 5% of LTE users—using 4.7GB or more per month—that are still on unlimited data plans, and only when their cell site is experiencing peak usage. Users who don’t want to be throttled can switch to a new usage-based plan.

To be honest, the move isn’t all that surprising. Verizon has the largest and longest-running LTE network in the US and we’ve been hearing reports for months now that data speeds in major cities like New York have slowed to a crawl because of the traffic.

I’m currently on a grandfathered unlimited plan with AT&T on LTE, and I’m wondering how long it takes before they follow suit.