A memo on Verizon’s website confirms the wireless carrier will begin throttling its highest data users as a way to manage network traffic. The memo points to new ” optimization and transcoding technologies” that will help the wireless carrier better manage its network. While most of the network optimization involves data compression, the wireless carrier confirms it will throttle the network speeds of its highest data users. This network management technique is common among wired ISPs and it is not surprising to see a similar strategy being adopted by Verizon Wireless. This throttling policy will apply to customs who subscribe to a new data plan or feature on or after February 3rd, 2011.
Not coincidentally, this is the same date pre-orders for the iPhone 4 began on Verizon Wireless. Any Verizon customer who purchases an iPhone 4 will be subject to these new terms. Similar to wired ISPs, those customers who consume the most data will have their data connection throttled periodically for the current and next billing cycle. According to Verizon, this new policy will “ensure high quality network performance for other users at locations and times of peak demand.” Verizon expects this policy to affect a mere 5% of its users. 95% of its customers will be unaffected by this new policy.
The timing of this policy change suggests Verizon is preparing for the iPhone 4 using a variety of network management techniques. We often think of the hardware side of the equation when considering a carrier’s wireless network capacity. The installation of new towers and improved back haul are the two techniques mentioned when it comes to a discussion of network improvement. Hardware improvement is only one side of the story and many ISPs use a combination of hardware and software solutions to manage their broadband network. While consumers may shudder at thought of throttling, it is an accepted network management technique.
For those who are interested, the full text of the memo is available on the next page.