Breaking Down Verizon’s Data Changes, Q&A Style

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

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 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.

Christopher Price is the Founding Editor of Today, he leads the team building Console, Inc. - a new kind of Android™ device. He still likes to pontificate... a lot. You can visit his personal blog at

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14 responses to “Breaking Down Verizon’s Data Changes, Q&A Style”

  1. Jeff

    Why not just throttle everyone on a tower that is overloaded? Isn’t this to keep the tower from getting swamped? Or is it to cut bandwidth costs elsewhere?

  2. Christopher Price

    Throttling “everyone on a tower” automatically happens when bandwidth is saturated. This is true on any carrier and any tower. It’s true on wired and wireless data alike. It’s no different than a traffic jam.

    These additional optimizations/throttlings/downsamplings are in addition to that “natural” network management.

  3. Jeff

    If everyone is paying the same, then throttling one user over another is wrong.

  4. robert

    Its funny how Verizon screws there customers and phonenews finds a way to bash Sprint and make Verizon look good.

    Chris we all know who pays your salary’s ..

  5. Christopher Price

    Robert, stop lying. We already opened our books to the naysayers and made it clear we get more revenue from Sprint than Verizon.

    This is not an ETF out because current customers are grandfathered. Sprint violated their own ETF policy, and is refusing to let customers cancel service because of a material change.

    They’re different situations, and we’ll challenge anyone that tries to make them seem the same. Verizon did the right thing grandfathering old customers, Sprint did the wrong thing…

    … so get over it already.

  6. robert

    I have never seen any news about your revenues Chris.

    You flat out lie and delete posts, you have forgotten where you came from. I know for a fact you are anti sprint and pro Verizon, att,apple. Who ever pays you the most, be it up front or in the back end.

    Also, Sprints change did not affect current customers, period. They did not force A EXTRA fee on every smartphone customer.

  7. Christopher Price

    Robert, see the commentary on our last article on the matter, it was all spelled out clearly there. If you didn’t see that article, then you probably aren’t a regular reader, as it was one of our most-read articles of the month.

    As to the Sprint debate, we’ve weighed in. In our view, it’s clearly a material change for Sprint to tell 3G smartphone users that they have to pay an added fee to use equipment the same way they were sold on it when they signed the contract.

    Thousands of Sprint customers swap out their expensive 3G smartphones on the weekends, and they were told that would be fee-free to do online, via the ESN swap process. They then signed a contract under the pretense. Hence, again in our view at, it’s clearly a material change.

  8. robert

    Actually I have been around since sprintpcsinfo.

    Also, ifs funny you did not provide a link for the phonenews articles that show your revenues. But either way I’m sure you get under the table profits.

  9. mitch

    I think it’s a bad move on Verizon’s part that they discontinued the $15/150MB plan. More and more people were becoming interested in the plan, since it allowed them to have a smartphone without paying the outrageous $30 a month. Plus, most phones now come with WiFi, and the data usage meter to show how much data they’ve used.. It would have attracted a lot more customers, including myself (I didn’t make the January 28th cutoff date). However, I guess I’ll be sticking to my regular phone. No BlackBerry for me. Not a good turn, Verizon. I hope you’ll come out with a plan like that sometime soon again.

  10. Michelle

    Robert is clearly an idiot. He can see that phonenews has stated that it gets more revenue from Sprint and the reasons it believes there is a material change that should allow customers to leave ETF free. If he can’t understand that concept F**k him—stupid idiot.

  11. Syvusfrmu

    “Hark at you, you unsavvy illiterate mobile buffoons.” Used to be my calling card as soon as friends started britching about their crappy AT&T coverages. I was of course light years ahead of them, and had a CDMA tracfone to back my iPhone up. That’s all changed now. Now verizon have more bw hogs that they’re going to curb, in an attempt to host a service for everyone, not just 5%. Can’t really fault that…what are the chances of it working. My guess is that verizon won’t throttle anybody. They’ll play angel, and when their network suffers, they’ll turn around and say; “told you so”, and lose anything unlimited, under the guise of doing the majority a favor, and having learnt from AT&T.
    And Michelle…you really shouldn’t be calling anybody an idiot. Slow is not always bad. But you can always fk him cause of stupidity though ;p

  12. F Barnes

    To be quite honest, when reading the article, I didn’t realize Christopher was making Verizon look good; quite the contrary, really! Look at the answers- “[Verizon] wants to reserve the right to …” features prominently. So does “Verizon isn’t giving many specifics/Verizon won’t say how much/they are not certain/We don’t know/they may”. Doesn’t really paint Verizon in a very good light and it all seems rather vague and unpredictable for those of us who have signed up/want to sign up for something constant. Makes me think the chap who posted before me was possibly onto something with his back-up Tracfone, though personally, I’d rather use net10 as a backup -their rates are cheaper and you have more of a decent choice in phone. That way, if Verizon compromises the “deal” you thought you had, when your contract ends, you just continue with your prepaid plan, that you know you have full control over! In the meanwhile, let’s hope they stick to their word, or at the very least, show some transparency and keep us well informed.

  13. Syvusfrmu

    I liked Chris’ Q&A. He supports verizon like it’s his favorite football team; he recognizes that they’re losing a game cause their game plan is crap, but that’s not to say he won’t stop supporting them. At the same time, because he likes them so much he’s an expert, and him giving crit is good. One would hope verizon take notice of what Chris says, and do something about it. Otherwise yes, keep the tracfone…unfortunately (but only sometimes), some of us need a phone to work from. Hello android 🙂

  14. David

    So let me get this straight…if Verizon doesnt stick to their word, Verizon customers still cannont get out of their contract without paying the cancelation fee? That doesnt sound right to me and once again I see how why switching to a Straight Talk’s prepaid service was a the best decision for me. If I’m unhappy, I can cut all ties without paying a dime. Verizon should really take note of what Straight Talk offers, they would have way more happy customers if they did.