Verizon warns it will throttle back speeds for data hogs

Timed with iPhone pre-orders, the move is seen as protecting other users

Verizon Wireless today warned new customers that it will throttle back data speeds on the top five per cent of users who hog network bandwidth, a move apparently timed with the Feb. 10 carrier's launch of the data-hungry iPhone 4.

In the past, Verizon has joined other national carriers in suggesting that data hogs could be targeted, especially since smartphones consume extraordinary amounts of data that can overburden networks. The iPhone is considered a heavy data user, as customers have been known to access multiple applications and run video over the AT&T cellular network where the phone has until now exclusively run in the U.S.

Verizon notified new data customers about its plans on Thursday on its Web site ( download PDF ), almost as a footnote, warning that if customers "use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top five per cent of Verizon Wireless data users, we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then-current and immediately following billing cycle."

The notice explains that the move is intended to ensure high quality network performance for other customers during peak demand times and in crowded locations. "Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95 per cent of data customers aren't negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users," the notice concludes.

Analyst Jack Gold at J. Gold Associates said most average data users will be happy that Verizon is working to keep networks uncongested. "Not only is Verizon not going to break any FCC rules with this action, it will probably make most people happy," he said. "If you get a number of bandwidth hogs on the network, it messes up the network for the rest of us. It's a shared resource.

"A user who downloads three YouTube videos at 5 p.m. might affect my ability to get an email," he said.

Gold and other analysts predicted Verizon's move will be followed by other carriers. "The whole notion of unlimited data is unsustainable," he said.

Rather than raising rates, as some carriers have done to limit usage, Verizon has said it will limit speeds, although it is not clear by how much.

Gold said the Verizon action obviously comes in conjunction with the launch of the iPhone , which went on pre-sale to Verizon customers on Thursday. "Look at what iPhone did to AT&T, which saw data rates go up dramatically with iPhone, especially in New York and San Francisco," Gold said.

"As more and more smart devices get on the network, you'll see more data metering or throttling or whatever you want to call it," he said. "They can either let a lot of hogs on the network and get complaints from everybody else or try to get ahead of matters."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

Read more about wireless networking in Computerworld's Wireless Networking Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphoneswirelessNetworkingPhonesconsumer electronicsat&twireless networkingMacintoshVerizon Wireless

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?