Verizon Wireless has confirmed the worrying news that it’s forcing customers who are on older unlimited data plans and use more than 200GB a month to switch to capped plans next month – or have their accounts terminated.
This is pretty much the worst move a service provider can make, for a number of reasons (it also isn’t the first time Verizon is doing this). For starters, the company itself admits that it’s only “a small group of customer on unlimited plans who use more than 200GB a month.”
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Um, those are your most loyal customers right there, Verizon. Do you think they’ll ever want to ditch your service and switch to another? Secondly, if it’s a small group, why is it so difficult for a multi-billion dollar company to continue to honor the contract it has with those few customers?
Anyhoo, this isn’t just about Verizon Wireless in the US: Across the world, broadband and mobile data providers continue to cap the amount of data subscribers can download each month, and charge a premium for additional bandwidth.
The company attempted to justify its move by claiming it needs to do this “because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience.” That’s total BS, because, as this explainer video from 2013 explains, that’s not how networks work.
What Verizon is trying to say is that network congestion is caused by too much data being transferred at the same time. In reality, congestion is caused by too many people using the same network simultaneously. The solution to that is improving infrastructure so as to support more concurrent users while offering the same transfer speeds – not capping bandwidth.
In November 2015, a memo circulated amongst Comcast customer service reps concerning new data plans that leaked online confirmed that even the company didn’t believe that congestion is the reason for introducing data caps.
Of course, there’s plenty to be gained by lying about this. A 2013 report from the New Network Institute, published in The Huffington Post, estimated that Warner Cable’s broadband margins were a whopping 97 percent at the time.
It’s not like unlimited data is a myth: Last week, T-Mobile announced some pretty sweet deals on such plans, along with a scheme to pay you back for data you don’t use. More providers need to follow T-Mobile’s example.
As the video above notes, data caps stifle innovation and make internet users uncomfortable about accessing online apps and content. As our reliance on cloud-based services increases – including those that involve large quantities of data, such as streaming playable games and VR experiences – so does the need to fight archaic and user-hostile practices like goddamn data caps.