We break down the pre-iPhone data changes at Verizon Wireless, including plans, throttling, and downsampling. Click Read More at the link below to see the full FAQ, including new clarifications from Verizon exclusive to PhoneNews.com.
Q: What is Verizon doing to data?
A: Right now, nothing. Verizon is about to launch iPhone 4, and wants to reserve the right to do all sorts of things down the road.
Q: So they’re changing their agreement, right?
A: Yes. But only for people that renew their contracts or sign up for new service. Anyone who does not change their contract will be grandfathered out of these terms.
Q: What exactly is Verizon adding to their choices for down the road?
A: Verizon is reserving the right to throttle users that are in the top 5% of bandwidth utilization. Verizon won’t say how much that is, because currently they aren’t throttling anyone. This is essentially Verizon’s “Plan B” in case iPhone 4 users overload their network, to avoid the congestion issues seen on AT&T.
Q: What about downsampling?
A: In addition, Verizon is saying that they may, in the future, downsample and cache content. For example, a YouTube video with millions of views might be stored on their server network. At that time, it may also be re-encoded to a lower quality. As a result, when you click a link on a web site, you may get a copy of the content that is not the original. And, it may be worse. Verizon does insist though that they are using modern technology that will not provide a significantly noticible impact.
In the early 3G days, CDMA carriers like Sprint imposed mandatory downsampling on Phone As Modem connections. This was eventually removed after strong criticism, and made optional.
Q: Is there any way around this downsampling? Can I opt-out?
A: Verizon isn’t giving many specifics beyond what type of content will be affected (images, audio, and video, specifically). Again, Verizon has not deployed this yet. And Verizon has informed us that they are not certain as to if this will ever be necessary.
Q: Can I cancel my service without paying an Early Termination Fee?
A: As we indicated above, no. Customers that don’t sign a new contract from February 1 onward, will be grandfathered. They will not be throttled, and will not be downsampled.
Q: Is that really going to hold true though?
A: We don’t know. It’s quite possible that some of these network management plans cannot be implemented on a per-account basis. At that time, Verizon will have to inform customers that were supposed to be grandfathered, and allow them to opt-out and cancel service sans ETF. Theoretically. Ask Sprint customers getting hit with a $10/month charge (without the option to cancel ETF-free) how that’s working out.
Q: Are Verizon’s data plans changing? Will unlimited data be offered on iPhone 4?
A: That’s old coverage for regular PhoneNews.com readers, but we decided to stick this here since it’s asked… a lot. Verizon will be sticking with the $29.99 unlimted data plan, and has discontinued the $15/150MB data plan.
Verizon has indicated that 4G devices, and future iPhone data plans will replace the current offering, and will be capped. This will allow customers who purchase an iPhone 4 now to be grandfathered, but ensure 4G LTE devices do not have access to unlimited data at the $29.99 price point.