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Verizon to start throttling heavy traffic as iPhone arrives

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]



By Electronista Staff
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  1. lkrupp

    Junior Member

    Joined: May 2001

    +13

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    At&t is evil personified while Verizon is God's gift to iPhone users.

    ...or so it goes.

    Moreover, what does this really say about the so-called ubiquity and dominance of Android? Verizon is just tooling along with billions and billions of Android users on its network who apparently have no need for data. Suddenly the iPhone appears and they expect to have to throttle their network because of the load? So what's that again about how Android now owns the mobile market?

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +9

    I'd like to throttle...

    I'd like to throttle the execs at all the phone companies. So, they want you to sign up to a data plan, for which you pay quite dearly, and then if you actually "draw down" what you've paid for, they will throttle you? It's like an oil company selling you petrol and then putting up roadblocks to stop you driving. WTF?

  1. Inkling

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jul 2006

    -8

    Good, but more needed

    This is a good first step. We're going to be forced to do something like this anyway, so we might as well do it in a planned and relatively fair way. In major cities (particularly downtown) there simply isn't enough spectrum, much less cellular spectrum, to handle all the uses a few well-heeled users might demand, including streaming video. If it takes throttling a few of them to keep the system working, then throttle away. If that few need more bandwidth, they can opt for a wired/fiber solution or a nano-cell.

    Verizon, AT&T, T-Moblie and others also need to take care of the other end of demand. They need pre-pay, per-byte plans for those with limited income, including students and the elderly. The plans would give users low priority in the queue, only feeding them data when the system would otherwise be idle. Users would be trading a few seconds extra delay for much lower rates. Cellular companies would get added income and happier, stay-with-them customers.

    I'm in that situation. Everywhere I spend any significant time, I have WiFi access. The only reason I need cellular data for my T-Mobile iPhone is at bus stops, typically late at night a few times a month. I need those few thousand bytes to check bus arrivals. Since knowing won't make a bus come any quicker, that data isn't even worth a $10/month plan.

    I can live without it, but there are others for whom that data is vital: people with serious disabilities or poor health, the frail elderly, and pretty young women. Bus arrival data would let them stay someplace safe and comfortable until just before a bus arrives.

  1. AlenShapiro

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2000

    +1

    Heh Heh Heh...

    ...It begins!

    But seriously. From Apple's perspective the iPhone's available network bandwidth has doubled (ish) overnight. AT&T user's experience will likely be better for a while as the use-pressure comes off - I hope AT&T keep up their upgrade momentum (but doubt they will).

    Verizon, now there's an interesting opportunity. If they succeed and manage to maintain a good network experience for their users, they can keep the pressure up on AT&T (which will give AT&T the incentive to continue their improvement). If, on the other hand, Verizon fail to rise to the occasion it will put a lie to their whole "we could have done it better" story and it will be business as usual for the consumer.

    It is interesting that Verizon is not offering a "premium tier" for non-throttled traffic. Since they've already established, via the FCC, that cell systems are "special", and not subject to net neutrality guidelines, they could slip in this extra revenue generator. The fact that they're not indicates they are quite concerned about how their network will hold up under the strain.

    I hope Verizon does manage the juggling act and Verizon does not end up filing this episode under the heading of "be careful for what you wish".

  1. FireWire

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +6

    ..

    "thank you for your payment for your all-you-can-eat buffet, now here's your straw to eat your steak to be sure you only eat 1% of it. Thank you, come again!"

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -4

    Re: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    At&t is evil personified while Verizon is God's gift to iPhone users.

    ...or so it goes.


    No one proclaimed Verizon to be some great company. It's just there's a lot of people who can't use ATT because their service is garbage in their area.

    Moreover, what does this really say about the so-called ubiquity and dominance of Android? ... Suddenly the iPhone appears and they expect to have to throttle their network because of the load? So what's that again about how Android now owns the mobile market?

    No, they're just making plans. What would you have them do. Not have a plan, like ATT, and then watch their network crash to the ground under the weight of use? Of course you would, that's why you're here mocking Verizon.

    And if you read the article, it states their concern are the idiot douchbags who grab their iPhones and start downloading gigs worth of video. They're going to throttle the users who are using up most of the bandwidth, not all users. They think they're network will hold up, they just don't want the a****** data hogs from making all the other users go "Oh, gee, they call this 'fast data'?"

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -6

    Re: I'd like to throttle...

    I'd like to throttle the execs at all the phone companies. So, they want you to sign up to a data plan, for which you pay quite dearly, and then if you actually "draw down" what you've paid for, they will throttle you?

    Wow. So who knew that $30 a month to be able to access the internet from anywhere you are was 'paying dearly'. Man, I hate to think of what you consider the $60 people pay for a wired internet connection that's restricted to their homes. Probably a fate worse than death.

    Oh, and maybe you missed the memo, but it is APPLE, not the phone companies, who REQUIRE you to sign up for a data plan. Apple wanted it to make sure people would use the phone to it's full extent. Because, if you notice, the carriers let you not get data plans on most of their phones.

  1. worldbfree4me

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010

    +2

    Wow

    This is interesting.

    So Verizon requires you to sign a contract for service but Verizon doesn't want to contractually deliver service.

    Very interesting dichotomy. All it lacks is a man in an alley with a gun.

    It's almost like a "Schrodinger thought experiment".

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -3

    HAHAHA Suckers.


    Say hello to your new God. VZW.

    That's why many did not want that stupid iPhone on the Verizon network. Things like this happen.

    Let's see your super fast connection now! If you want speed, go to a network without the iPhone. (T-Mobile, Sprint).

  1. Fast iBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003

    0

    Proof.....

    Proof their network can't handle full unchecked usage.

    - A

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