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Verizon Communications Media The Almighty Buck The Internet Technology

Verizon Will Stop Throttling Video On Unlimited Plans If You Pay An Extra $10 Per Month (theverge.com) 110

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Two months ago, Verizon implemented a change to all of its unlimited data plans that placed limits on the quality at which users could stream video. The company split its unlimited plan into two tiers, with the cheaper option restricting video streaming to 480p resolution; a higher-priced $85 "Beyond Unlimited" plan tops out at 720p video on smartphones (and 1080p on tablets). The new restrictions immediately applied to all plans and Verizon customers had no way of opting out if they wanted to watch 1080p video on their phone or even higher resolutions on capable devices using mobile data. But now Verizon will give subscribers a way to completely remove the video quality handcuffs -- for an extra $10 every month. If you're willing to pay that $10 charge, you can stream video at the maximum quality supported by any device you've got connected to Verizon, whether it's 1080p, 1440p, or even 4K. But keep in mind that the extra fee is applied per line for anyone on a family plan who wants to lift the limits. Even on a single-line plan, it adds up. Tacking $10 onto Verizon's Beyond Unlimited ratchets up the monthly price to $95. The $10 add-on will be available beginning November 3rd.
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Verizon Will Stop Throttling Video On Unlimited Plans If You Pay An Extra $10 Per Month

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  • by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @04:22PM (#55432539) Homepage

    Nice try, Verizdumb. We won't be falling for that one again.

    • You say that, but consumers will fall for this and some idiots will even defend it. Telecoms have to eat too, don't you know?
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, I take "unlimited" to mean "unlimited quantities of data"; but of course there is no such thing: you are always limited by bandwidth. There is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth.

      I have no fundamental philosophical objection to a pricing model which considers bandwidth and net data volume separately. Back in the day we used to provision frame relay circults this way; sometimes it was quite economical to provision frame relay circuits with very low bandwidth guarantees, sometimes even zero!

      A service

      • I take "unlimited" to simply mean not limited as a consequence of any particular policy. That is to say, that nobody is *actually limiting* it... it may still be limited in the sense that there is a finite bandwidth, but absent any explicit policy which specifies any upper limit, it can still be reasonably taken as unlimited.

        I have unlimited nationwide long distance calling on my cell phone plan, for example. While I am theoretically limited in how much I can *actually* use that benefit because of the finite number of hours in a day and the finite amount of days in each billing period, that theoretical limit is not something that actually impacts (nor can it impact) how much I am allowed to use my phone for such purposes without paying extra fees or suffering some additional inconvenience imposed upon me which was caused solely by my own usage patterns.

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          My point is that while the marketing messaging may have been faulty, it's not necessarily a bad thing to give people with no data caps a choice of bandwidth options at different price points. I for one have no interest in streaming 4K video over my data connection, so I don't care to pay more just because someone else wants to.

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            Why should a person who streams an hour of 4K pay more than someone else who streams 4 hours of 1080p? They're ultimately equivalent in terms of network use. And, if the promise is "unlimited," any artificial limit breaks that promise.

            You, of course, should be able to sign up for a cheaper limited plan, where you can choose to use it up in a day watching video, or spread it over a month streaming audio.
            • by hey! ( 33014 )

              Because you need more bandwidth to service the same number of customers. That's because of the mathematics of statistical multiplexing.

              Let's say I'm the subscriber and you're the telco. If I'm sitting in a cell all by myself, you might as well let me have all the bandwidth in the cell because it doesn't cost you any more. But let's say I'm in a crowded cell with just enough bandwith to service peak demand. Then I try to stream 4K video to my phone and suddenly there's not enough bandwidth for every subs

              • by msauve ( 701917 )
                nope. Your entire argument is based on the incorrect assumption that the bandwidth isn't distributed evenly between users (and the 4K user is allowed to burst when others aren't using their bandwidth). There's nothing that says a cell provider has to add more capacity to support multiple heavy traffic users.
                • by hey! ( 33014 )

                  No, my argument is based on the assumption that there is finite bandwith that is not sufficient for everyone to stream at 4K, so that when a certain number of people start doing that isochronous streams suffer and have to start buffering.. This is pretty much basic data communication principles.

                  • by msauve ( 701917 )
                    So what? There's no guarantee of available bandwidth, and the carrier is not committed to adding infrastructure to create more.
                    • by hey! ( 33014 )

                      Right, that's exactly the point. Nobody is guaranteed bandwidth, that's what makes it so cheap. Guaranteed bandwith is expensive, but that's what you need when enough people demand instant access to fat, isochronous or nearly-isochronous data streams.

      • I have actually been saying this for a long time, that we need to completely eliminate the model of buying blocks of data that you don't use. Right now you buy "unlimited" which of course is impossible, since bandwidth is a limited resource or you buy an allotment of voice and data that you get reamed for if you go over that expires every month. You end up paying for data that you don't use and it's a scam that should have been outlawed long ago. It is totally skewed to the benefit of the utility. Imagi

        • Right now you buy "unlimited" which of course is impossible, since bandwidth is a limited resource or you buy an allotment of voice and data that you get reamed for if you go over that expires every month. You end up paying for data that you don't use and it's a scam that should have been outlawed long ago. It is totally skewed to the benefit of the utility. Imagine buying a car and getting an allotment of gas delivered to your house, say 100 gallons, and at the end of every month, a truck from the dealership rolls up, pumps your tank dry and then turns around and pumps back 100 gallons and charges you for 100 gallons of gas. No one would put up with that bullshit.

          You do realize that there are OPTIONS on service, right? It might just be a consumer's responsibility to assess how much cell/data service they use, and purchase the plan that BEST fits that usage. So, while your 100 gallon analogy aligns with billing structure of a common "unlimited" plan, you fail to factor in or mention that the dealership offers other billing structures (which kind of makes you dishonest...ironic).

          For both wired and wireless, we need to go to a federally regulated model that completely eliminates any monthly fee, and then companies can charge ONE rate advertised to everyone with no rebates, discounts etc. for data (this forces them to compete on an even playing field and not cut backroom deals that unfairly interfere with competition). The rate would end up being something like 1/2 cent per MB for wireless data and 2 cents per GB for wired data and you pay for what you USE each month. All voice is treated like the data that it is, so no more "voice" plans at all. It encourages Telcoms to invest in new, faster infrastructure and not try to minimize expenditures on new, faster hardware because they only make more money by providing more volume, not by overselling expensive plans and then trying to discourage consumers from using the plans they bought via data caps, throttling and other BS. The reality is nothing is unlimited and each MB you download has cost, the best model for consumers has always been the pay as you use model described above. It is harder for Telcoms because they have to anticipate demand and build out infrastructure to make more money, but that's just the business, if they don't like it, they can GTFO.

          In Soviet Russia, text message sends you!

          All tired interweb funnies aside, do you have an

          • As far as I am aware, there is no wireless service that sells a reasonable (i.e. around 200% markup on cost) per MB use plan. In my analogy it is as if the car dealer has a monopoly on the kind of gas the car uses and will either charge you $50/gallon (totally unreasonable unless you only drive once a month) or requires you to buy the 200 gallons per month I used in my analogy. Sure there is a pay as you use model, but it is priced to drive you to buy more than you need and by contract the dealership can

    • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @05:30PM (#55432997)

      I find it highly unlikely that they can even tell what traffic I have on my VPN.....

      • by crtreece ( 59298 )
        This is the mostly correct answer. They can likely analyze the traffic pattern and figure out that you're watching video, and assuming you are using a commercial VPN provider, they can already figure out that the endpoint of the connection is a VPN node. They won't be able to tell whether you're connecting to Hulu, Netflix, or your own home media server.
    • "Pray I do not alter them further."

  • "Unlimited" (Score:5, Funny)

    by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @04:25PM (#55432573) Journal
    Verison, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
    • Re:"Unlimited" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples @ g mail.com> on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @04:32PM (#55432633) Homepage Journal

      Read the fine print. "Unlimited" means there is no hard limit on total monthly data transfer volume, especially the relatively bursty transfer associated with interactive use of a website or a mobile app. There's a limit on data rate (not volume) when associated to a congested tower, during which lighter users get priority. And there's a limit on the data rate (not volume) of more steady streams associated with long-form video playback. This is to encourage users to view videos directly on the phone, with its physically smaller screen, rather than using its HDMI, AirPlay, Miracast, or Chromecast output with a living room TV as a substitute for home wired Internet.

      • Re:"Unlimited" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @04:46PM (#55432729) Homepage

        This is to encourage users to view videos directly on the phone, with its physically smaller screen,

        Physically smaller, physically closer. My screen is over 1080p and at the relative viewing distance needs the resolution more than my 42" TV at 5 feet.

        If you need fine print to name something "unlimited" but then sell an "extra unlimited" plan, you are really just trying to be deceptive.

        • Physically smaller, physically closer.

          Not if more than one person is in the living room. How convenient is it for the SO, kids, or house guests to watch a video on your phone over your shoulder? In addition, focusing that close for long periods of time is tiring.

          • What are you babbling about? I'm talking about a 1-person use case.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              That's why I mentioned close focus. It's tiring to keep your eyes focused a foot from your face for two hours.

              • So watch 30 minute content. Or a Youtube video. It still doesn't validate why the restriction should vary.

                • by tepples ( 727027 )

                  In other words, we've narrowed the set of use cases affected by this restriction to where (i) only one person is watching (ii) a short video for which (iii) fine detail is important. We narrow to one viewer because multiple viewers would use a larger display connected to a wired home ISP. We narrow to a short video because long videos make close focus tiring. We narrow to videos for which fine detail is important because 480p is acceptable for other videos.

                  So I imagine the restriction is caused by congestio

                  • In other words, we've narrowed the set of use cases affected by this restriction to where (i) only one person is watching (ii) a short video for which (iii) fine detail is important.

                    Not really. You were actually saying this somehow encourages people to view video on a smaller device rather than a larger screen. I'm telling you why the size of the screen doesn't really determine what quality is desired - I mostly always want a sharp picture.

                    Would you prefer that phone bills double to cover the purchase of additional land on which to erect more towers?

                    Don't be disingenuous. Their rates are already high enough to cover that. They'd just rather engage in deceptive marketing and call it all profit.

                    • by tepples ( 727027 )

                      You were actually saying this somehow encourages people to view video on a smaller device rather than a larger screen.

                      Or just as importantly, to shift large-screen viewing away from Verizon Wireless to a wired ISP.

                      I mostly always want a sharp picture.

                      Though you are a mobile videophile, I imagine that there are few enough other subscribers like you that a service aimed at mobile videophiles would be considered a specialty service. And it's commonplace in the industry to charge extra for specialty services.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      I'm sure Ajit Pai will jump at this and force them to be honest or face dire consequences...

      • You are aware, aren't you, that Mr. Pai was first appointed to that position by President Obama in 2011, and approved unanimously by the Senate in 2012. If you hate him so much, why didn't you complain then?
  • It's super cereal unlimited!

  • I'll wait for the inevitable Slashdot post 6 months from now, 'Verizon now throttling data for customer's who paid an extra $10'.
    • "Beyond Unlimited" plan tops out at 720p video on smartphones (and 1080p on tablets).

      You'll need the "Really, Really Unlimited" plan to get 1080p on your phone, 4k on tablets.

      • And in 6 months they'll say that wasn't profitable and throttle it. Then a year later they'll come out with their 'Really, Really, Really Unlimited' plan, which will last another 6 months before it to is throttled because it isn't profitable. Its as if this were all just some ploy to trick people into signing up for needlessly expensive data plans.
      • by Desler ( 1608317 )

        The “We swear it’s mostly, kinda sorta unlimited this time” plan.

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @04:44PM (#55432705)
    No mobile phone carrier provider should be allowed to negatively change the terms of an existing contract, while that contract is in operation, unless they are prepared to allow all existing users on that contract to terminate early and without penalty.
    It's that simple.

    If they want to improve the service, that is one thing... but it simply is not acceptable to degrade a service once someone has paid for it. Imagine if you ordered a 50" 4K TV from Amazon, but they sent you a 40" TV. When you complained, they try and explain that between the moment you ordered and the moment that they shipped, the terms of the offer changed... I don't think so
    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      The video streaming throttling was in from the beginning.

    • Doesn't it work that way?

      I remember one time way back in the day getting notice of a change with a bill and an option to leave then or to accept the new terms.

      I like the way TMobile does it though, no contracts, but you can stay on legacy plans as long as you want.

      I kept binge on for a long time (so I could tether and stream without affecting my data uasage), dropped it eventually to travel to Canada and not pay roaming.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @04:50PM (#55432759)

    I wish marketing people short lives and long deaths - stuck in hellish theoretical Math courses forever trying to solve equations for "Beyond Unlimited".

  • Pray I don't alter it any further. (well, opportunity and all that)
    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      The deal was altered from the get go with these terms. This is Verizon. Their MO is to fuck you over for the most of money possible.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @04:56PM (#55432789)

    ... the acceptable vendor price of unrestricted bandwidth is $10. Sure, some people might say, "but that's on top of the regular price" but that's not how math works. Adding infinity to any number is still infinity. If Verizon is willing to accept $10 more for unrestricted, it can simply accept $10 for everything.

  • If they can't tell it's video, they can't throttle.
  • Seriously? Beyond unlimited? Someone at Verizon must've watched Toy Story at too low a resolution to properly grasp the mockery of the Buzz's slogan To Infinity And Beyond...
  • For just $200/month more, any workers sent to locations within two blocks of your house will have been screened to ensure they aren't pedophiles with a history of kidnapping, raping and murdering children.

    Verizon is all about giving you the freedom to choose the level of service you need!

  • Slow! (Score:4, Informative)

    by antdude ( 79039 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @08:32PM (#55434003) Homepage Journal

    Yeah right. Even cellular Internet is slow. Why even bother to try to stream videos if its Internet is slow enough? :(

  • Why even bother streaming 4k to a smartphone? Is there some a new microscope attachment for the iphone that's become bizarrely popular?
  • How soon before ISIS takes out the cable company. Hint: Islam did not like infinite being used in a military campaign name; I think they would also think "Beyond Unlimited" is not correct. Tim S.

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