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Prepare to be throttled: Verizon Wireless to stifle subscribers’ unlimited data

If you’re a Verizon Wireless customer with unlimited data, you may soon find your speeds throttled by the network. For those of you who don’t know, throttling is the practice of slowing down a user’s data speeds in response to congestion in the network, or some other factor. In other words, even though you’re paying for unlimited 4G LTE data, you may receive data speeds of 3G or less.

Verizon is expected to announce the changes as part of its updated  “Network Optimization” plan, according to Droid-Life. Verizon already throttles data for those with 3G data, but now it will reportedly do the same with 4G data. The carrier claims that its policies are intended to give the best service possible to all its subscribers. Ironically, in order to ensure that its network performs optimally, Verizon says it has to give some users sub-par data. The data throttling will begin on October 1 and could affect millions of customers who still use Verizon’s unlimited data plans.

In a statement on its website, Verizon lays out the requirements users must meet to experience throttling (currently for 3G data speeds only.) The carrier says that users must:

  • Be in the top 5 percent of data users (using 4.7GB+ of data a month)
  • Subscribe to an unlimited data plan
  • Fulfill the minimum contract term
  • Try to use data on a cell site that is overwhelmed by users

Verizon is expected to notify customers of the changes on August 1. Luckily, this new policy should not slow down most Verizon users’ data. The carrier told BGR that less than 22 percent of its subscribers have an unlimited data plan. A recent study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that Verizon has been very successful at convincing its users to pay more for data plans with a finite amount of data than any other carrier.

It’s unclear how frequent the data throttling will be or exactly how many subscribers will be affected by the new policy.