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Verizon begins choking highest data users

Big Red's "Network Optimization" project will shave data speeds for its most resource-hungry users, Verizon says.

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Jessica Dolcourt Senior Director, Commerce & Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Jessica Dolcourt
2 min read

This month, Verizon will be making good on its threat to choke data speeds for the most active 5 percent of its 3G data customers.

If you use 2GB of data or more each month and have a 3G unlimited plan, there's a good chance this slow-down applies to you.

It isn't "throttling," of course, Verizon wants you to know. Throttling is a long-term downgrading of your data speeds, Big Red said in a statement online, whereas its "Network Optimization" is more like a series of speed bumps to slow you down when the network needs a traffic cop.

Unlike throttling, Verizon says it will return you to your usual speeds once the congestion has ceased, which could take anywhere from seconds to hours, and there's no way of knowing exactly when the cell nearest you is overburdened.

Verizon's online FAQ is rather vague, and very polite. They're not targeting you, they're "managing" data speeds when you've reached a "certain data-usage level." And don't worry, because "high data users will feel the smallest possible impact and only experience reduced data speeds when necessary for us to optimize data network traffic in that area."

Verizon's need to keep a close eye on its network and curtail speeds for its highest data users demonstrates once again the very real pressures facing 3G data networks as more and more customers crave instant access to data on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Regardless of Verizon's florid reassurance, some customers will doubtless feel a pinch. On the other hand, the unaffected 95 percent may appreciate noticing nothing out of the ordinary.