Verizon Throttling Quality of Netflix, YouTube Streams With Revamped Data Plans

Verizon's New Unlimited Plans

Verizon's New Unlimited Plans

Anything identified as a video will not be given more than 10Mbps worth of bandwidth. Mobile hotspot receives 10GB of high speed data or 15GB with a two year contract. Customers that are now signed up for a plan can keep it, but even for them some conditions will change. While Sprint features full HD streaming for video, the carrier also has separate data caps for categories like games and streaming music.

"Moving forward, HD video on all legacy plans will also match Beyond Unlimited's HD quality", Verizon reportedly said. The carrier says there's "no visible difference" in quality at those resolutions, but, well, that's just not true.

This story was updated to clarify the video quality for previous unlimited plan customers.

A new Go Unlimited plan costs $75/month with paper-free billing and AutoPay for a single line. These customers get the benefit of avoiding overage charges and strict monthly caps, but they won't get the same video quality as customers who either have a limited data plan or splurge for the "Beyond Unlimited" plan. Also on the cheap plan, a phone's regular Internet connection can be slowed by an undisclosed amount at any time when in a busy area, not just after a customer uses 22 GB in one month, as under the original plan. The carrier has chopped its plans into three pieces tiers with differing prices.

If you're a Verizon subscriber and love to watch videos online, we have some bad news. Verizon's only rationale for the changes today is "We are offering choices on unlimited now because everyone deserves to experience unlimited on America's best wireless network" - which is a nice way of completely avoiding the question.

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No matter which plan you select, there is no way to enable 1080p streaming on a smartphone with Verizon's revised unlimited plans. The company claims that "more than 96 percent of customers have not used 4K video", according to Ars Technica. "Unlimited" hotspot performance is now throttled to 600Kbps (75KB/s or 0.07MB/s).

Verizon's second unlimited option is the Beyond Unlimited plan. While this plan is still $10 20+/ month above S's and TMUS's unlimited plans, it offers VZ more of a growth segment to pursue. But Verizon's gone about this in the wrong way, by not being open about the changes, and forcing them on existing customers overnight. By introducing an unlimited "light" plan we believe it will be better able to target segments which TMUS and S are going after.

The US operator has overhauled its data plans, axing its unlimited wireless offer in favour of three different plans, with video streaming limited to 480p on the cheapest plan, Go Unlimited. For the tablet owners on the unlimited plan, the maximum video quality will be of 1080p on your device.

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.

Verizon has been competing for customers with smaller rivals T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp in a saturated USA market for wireless service as most consumers already have cell phones.