Following three years of keeping a hands-off approach to LTE data management after implementing its network management policies to eliminate heavy 3G data users on its network in 2011, Verizon has begun the process of adding LTE devices to the policy, with the official enforcement beginning in October for those out of contract and on older plans while favoring those on newer metered data plans.
The process has begun with recent language modifications to the policy which will throttle LTE device users on the aforementioned unlimited data plans that use more than 4.7GB of data in a billing cycle and allows Verizon to continue throttling through additional billing cycles based on the customer’s particular location that also happens to feature cell sites under constant high demand. Below, Verizon’s official statement on the changes:
Verizon Wireless strives to provide its customers with the best wireless experience when using our network. In 2011, Verizon Wireless launched Network Optimization, which slows the data speeds of its unlimited data subscribers with 3G devices who are in the top 5% of data users when they connect to a cell site experiencing high demand. Effective October 1, Verizon Wireless will expand its existing Network Optimization policy to include its unlimited data subscribers using 4G LTE devices who have fulfilled their minimum contract term. Based on your plan and recent data usage, one or more lines on your account may experience a reduction in data speeds when connected to a cell site experiencing high demand. Customers on MORE Everything or other usage-based data plans are not subject to Network Optimization. For more information about our Network Optimization, please refer to www.verizonwireless.com/networkoptimization.
The only ways to avoid the above changes in October are to renew a service agreement if out of contract or switch to a newer metered data plan, otherwise those customers that are wishing to retain unlimited LTE data access on Verizon will be subject to the above rules with few alternatives other than doing an upgrade transfer to renew an agreement under a multi-line plan or renewing a single-line plan with help from customer service to retain unlimited data. These changes also follow the recent launch of LTE network access on Verizon’s prepaid service, with rumors that MVNOs will be receiving LTE access in the next 30-60 days.
With the national rollout of the XLTE AWS band data overlay within the past few weeks to address longstanding congestion issues on its primary 700Mhz LTE network, Verizon adding LTE devices to its network management policy does seem unexpected, but anyone that had experienced the congestion within the past year will likely look at the changes as a good thing, especially as the previous hands-off policy led to an underground market of accounts with unlimited data access being resold specifically for those people that wanted unlimited data on the carrier.
The changes also leave Verizon and Sprint as the remaining Tier 1 carriers with unlimited LTE data access, albeit with markedly less expansive national coverage compared to Verizon’s LTE network.