Verizon to start throttling all smartphone videos to 480p or 720p

24 August, 2017, 01:40 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • Verizon is seen at a retail store in San Diego California

This morning, Verizon made some significant changes to its Unlimited plan that makes it more expensive and worse, and it's started throttling all smartphone video - on any plan, regardless of price - to 720p.

The three new plans are Go Unlimited ($75 for one line), Beyond Unlimited ($85 for the first line) and Business Unlimited (various prices). Verizon specifically cited the introduction of Unlimited plans as the reason why the company saw 356,000 new phone lines added in Q2, versus 86,000 a year before. Are they extending Verizon's competitive each against T-Mobile US (TMUS), and Sprint (S), or are they merely a way to milk customers for more money? The plan also includes a new throttling for mobile hotspot users that caps browsing speeds at a paltry 600Kbps.

If you're just now catching up, Verizon announced changes for its unlimited plan lineup this morning, with three offerings available starting tomorrow. "The move also follows a trend of differentiating unlimited plans to manage congestion and monetize the network".

Having a good unlimited plan was doing wonders for Verizon's bottom line.

The constant risk of slower download speeds makes the plan hard to compare to AT&T's cheapest plan, called Unlimited Choice, which costs from $60 to $155. The fourth option, beyond unlimited, ups the video quality a bit, but still limits phones to 720p and 1080p. But for now, mobile customers with high-res displays will have to deal with lesser quality video than ever before.

Verizon has updated its unlimited data packages for mobile subscribers and users who want to stream video will now be subject to data throttling. Video capped to 480p on smartphones, 720p on tablets.

Customers who buy a new unlimited data plan can get higher-quality video for an extra $10 per month.

Getty Images  Tomohiro Ohsumi
Getty Images Tomohiro Ohsumi

But they're more than just names and prices. Also notable, higher resolution videos like 4K videos will not be available at all on the Verizon network.

Testing firm OpenSignal recently found that Verizon's "average LTE download test fell 2Mbps to 14.9 Mbps" in the months after its launch of unlimited data.

Full pricing and availability of services can be found on Verizon's website.

Go Unlimited will be limited to "DVD-quality" streaming at 480p on phones.

Verizon contends the throttling policy continues to be necessary in order to keep traffic up for all customers.

It's technically unlimited service, but it sure won't feel like that in practice. This is exactly the sort of things that the FCC's net-neutrality protections (which, by the way, are now still in place) were meant to protect against.


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