In a notice sent to customers with their latest bill, Verizon Wireless has begun informing current customers that as of yesterday, the carrier has begun to implement its previously leaked network management policies that were first discovered in February ahead of the carrier’s launch of the iPhone. The Network Management policy now stipulates that these new changes are not throttling as practiced by AT&T, T-Mobile and other carriers but a new real-time method of traffic management based on how congested the cell site is at any given moment.
Based on the policy, the 5% of users that Verizon considers to be heavy users with an unlimited plan and using more than 2GB at any given time will be throttled, if they are on a congested cell site at that point in time when the data session is underway. Naturally, this has confused many customers who are under the assumption that Verizon is implementing standard throttling, but Verizon is also taking things a step further by implementing active traffic shaping on the 3G network in order to maintain optimal network conditions, which affects things like video streaming and any application that uses real-time data transfer. At the continue reading link, a screencap of the noticeÂ Â on this month’s bill as well as a major exception to the new rules.
Currently, Verizon’s network management policies are only being applied to the 3G EVDO network and is conveniently excluding its nascent LTE network, but early reports indicate that the actual implementation of the policies are affecting all customers regardless of actual usage, with reports of slower than normal speeds despite staying well below the newly defined 2GB monthly threshold for being placed in the 5% of heavy users, while others are also reporting that speeds have become less consistent in locations where service was previously at or above stated 3G data speeds.
Additionally the point that is causing the most consternation is the inclusion of a clause that allows them to maintain the reduced speed enabled on the device and account for two billing cycles before speeds are restored to normal, while standard throttling as practiced by other carriers only affects customers for one billing cycle before speeds are restored.
While Verizon previously confirmed to PhoneNews.com and other major media outlets that the leaked information first reported in February was merely an internal guideline for future network policy and not meant to be taken at face value or even considered an actual policy, yesterday’s implementation of the policy after months of promoting smartphones that promote heavy data use is being seen as yet another bad decision made by the company so close to the long expected and awaited launch of the fifth generation iPhone as well as other flagship devices ahead of the always crucial holiday season.
To complicate the issue further, the entire 4G LTE network and supported device lineup is exempt from the Network Management policy as long as 4G service is being used in lieu of the standard 3G EVDO data connection, essentially forcing customers to decide between upgrading to another 3G feature phone to keep unlimited data access or upgrading to a 4G device with capped data plans, a potentially expensive proposition with no easy solution.
Of course, you can still keep unlimited data when going from a 3G feature phone to a smartphone, since customer service can and will override the exclusion if enough complaints are made, but it seems that the current policy is designed to move people away from using 3G data to 4G service if you want to keep and use unlimited data. As quickly as Verizon is expanding its 4G LTE network, it’s still not expansive enough to allow access to the majority of those people that are affected by the new policy to consider it a viable alternative…yet.
In an ironic twist, Verizon happens to be implementing the same type of management policy that Clearwire implemented last year, with nearly identical issues. Only time will tell if this policy is a viable alternative to standard account-based throttling, but for all intents and purposes, there is no real difference. Throttling is throttling and for those that are lucky enough to still have unlimited data. they really don’t think 2GB is “unlimited”.