updated 09:20 am EST, Thu February 3, 2011
Verizon to throttle some frequent users' data
Verizon in a newly published memo has revealed that it would start throttling heavy use of its network under certain conditions. Similar to T-Mobile, it will reserve the right to slow down the speeds for those who use an "extraordinary amount of data" and are in the top five percent most active users. The ceilings would follow not just through the current billing month but the next as well to "ensure high quality network performance" for other subscribers, the carrier claimed.
It also mentioned that the traffic itself would sometimes be modified to "benefit the greatest number of users." The approach would cache less of the information sent across the network and would compress videos to take up less bandwidth. Verizon's awareness of net neutrality rules was in effect as it stressed that the methods would be "agnostic" to the format, but it admitted that the compression could at least "minimally impact" the quality of the image at the receiving end. A link to an optimization page in the memo wasn't working as of this writing.
The steps haven't been made public but are almost certainly in place to cushion the blow of the iPhone reaching the network, where pre-orders began on Thursday. Verizon has repeatedly said it has bulked up the capacity of the network itself to handle the expected load but may be afraid of repeating the disaster of AT&T's iPhone 3G launch in 2008. Although it had spread the coverage of 3G in advance, AT&T is now known to have completely underestimated the network needs for Apple. The iPhone's firmware at the time may also have been unoptimized and consumed more data than necessary.
Early Verizon iPhone reviews haven't encountered such bottlenecks but have also been helped by the lack of other iPhone users on the same CDMA connection.
The technique may not be noticeable as implemented, since it would only be invoked if a user both used a large amount of traffic and was enough of a burden on the network to interfere with other users. [via BGR]