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Verizon Will Slow Data For Heavy Users

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/03/11 12:24 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:30 PM ET

Verizon Data Throttle

For those caught up in the Verizon iPhone frenzy, a new revelation may curb your excitement.

A memo on Verizon's site reveals that the company will slow down the data speeds for heavy users during peak times and locations, as spotted by BGR. The plan holds true not just for the highly-anticipated iPhone, but for other data-enabled phones like Androids and BlackBerrys.

The memo explains:

If you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top 5% 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 to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand. Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95% of data customers aren't negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users.

Verizon currently serves around 94 million customers. And it stands to reason that the 5 percent that fall into the "extraordinary" data usage category are precisely those people who will balk most at slower speeds. Though in comparison with the AT&T iPhone, the Verizon iPhone won glowing appreciation for its network reliability and voice quality, as reviewers at Engadget and Wired have noted, Verizon's data speeds are noticeably slower.

Slowing data periodically won't be the only precaution Verizon implements to keep the network running smoothly: the same memo reports that the company will utilize "optimization" techniques including "caching less data, using less capacity, and sizing the video more appropriately for the device."

What does that mean, exactly? The memo continues:

While we invest much effort to avoid changing text, image, and video files in the compression process and while any change to the file is likely to be indiscernible, the optimization process may minimally impact the appearance of the file as displayed on your device

In other words, pictures and videos will sometimes look worse than they're meant to. The policy announcement seems to head off anticipation that the vast influx of iPhone users on Verizon's network will unduly clog the experience--a prediction AT&T made when the Verizon iPhone was announced. Though Verizon recently announced they would be offering unlimited data for a period, it seems that that unlimited plan has some unforeseen limitations.

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