Verizon announced on Thursday, the first day for which it is accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 4, that it will begin throttling the wireless bandwidth of its most active users in order to preserve decent data speeds for everyone else — the same way AT&T had to do when data-hungry iPhone users clogged its pipes.
Verizon’s announcement warns heavy data users that they’ll see big slowdowns for the remainder of any month, and the following month, in which if they use their iPhones or other smartphones too much:
“Verizon Wireless strives to provide customers the best experience when using our network, a shared resource among tens of millions of customers. To help achieve this, if you use an extraordinary amount of data and fall within the top five per cent of Verizon Wireless data users we may reduce your data throughput speeds periodically for the remainder of your then current and immediately following billing cycle to ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand.
“Our proactive management of the Verizon Wireless network is designed to ensure that the remaining 95 per cent of data customers aren’t negatively affected by the inordinate data consumption of just a few users.”
Many publications have already been speed-testing the much-anticipated Verizon iPhone, which was supposed to set iPhone users free from evil AT&T’s shoddy service and coverage. Just one problem: Until regular people — in other words, the massive percentage of the population that is not technology journalists with early access to the device — start using the Verizon iPhone, those speed-tests aren’t worth much.
It’s sort of like speed-testing a highway at four in the morning.
And that’s before Verizon starts throttling the access of its most active customers (including music fans), as it now says it plans to do.
Granted, plenty of other data-hungry smartphones already run on Verizon. One study claimed that Verizon users actually use more data than iPhone users on AT&T. But another study showed that iPhone users gobble up more data than users of other phones. Regardless, iPhone users install more apps than other smartphone users, as a Neilsen study showed, if only because so many more of them are available, and many of those apps — especially the music ones — use lots of wireless data.
So, what is a music fan who wants an iPhone that can stream music to do? Which will be better at delivering skip-free tunes: the Verizon or the AT&T iPhone? Commuters who want to access Pandora and other music services from the highway, in particular, need to know.
When Evolver.fm pondered this question last month, we decided that the Verizon iPhone will be best for music fans, but only if Verizon’s network is up to the challenge. The sad truth, as much these publications who are already posting Verizon iPhone speed tests seek to avoid it, is that we just don’t know yet.
One thing is for sure, though: If using a Verizon iPhone to stream music on a daily basis is enough to put users in the top five per cent of data users on Verizon’s 3G network, limiting their bandwidth for as much as two months, AT&T’s much-derided network could start looking pretty good by comparison.