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It doesn’t matter that we don’t need it, Verizon’s throttling move is a PR disaster

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Verizon might not think it’s that big a deal to throttle data, but the ammunition it has handed competitors in the battle for 4G customers is ridiculous.

It’s a story which has been gathering a bit of pace, but ARS Technica has reported Verizon will be changing up its unlimited plan in the very near future, as well as throttling data for everyone involved. According to the reports, Verizon will begin throttling video streams to resolutions as low as 480p on smartphones, though most will get 720p on the higher tier plan.

The issue here is that there isn’t an option. Throttling data has pretty much become common practise when you have users using such colossal amounts. Having your stream throttled after 20-odd GBs a month is hardly considered unusual, but Verizon’s move is for everyone, not just those who are hogging the network and causing bottlenecks.

The argument here from Verizon and some other corners of the industry is you generally don’t need more than 480p or 720p to watch content on your phone, it is after all quite a small screen. And when you get to tablets, Verizon is allowing the courtesy of going up to 1080p. Looking at it logically, that is all that most would need. But, since when are people logical.

The damage here will come from the like of T-Mobile CEO John Legere, and the marketing bods from other competitors in the US. They won’t be focusing on what resolution you actually need to watch a cat video, but more on the fact that you can have as much as you want when you are watching it on one of their data plans.

Most people want as much as they can get for as little as possible, irrelevant as to whether it is actually needed. A parallel example will be food wastage, we always buy too much just in case. If there is an option to get more for a similar or only marginally higher value we will go for it. It’s about getting the best bang for your buck.

We’re exactly the same in the world of technology. We don’t need unlimited data plans, it would probably be cheaper for us if we actually figured out how much we use on a monthly basis and stick to that responsibly. But, the option for unlimited, unthrottled data is there, so we want it.

Legere generally doesn’t need a reason to take a swing at the likes of Verizon, but it has just given him a perfect excuse. Over the next couple of days, we can probably expect some sort of YouTube video, or rant on Twitter, proclaiming the benefits of the T-Mobile unlimited plans and why Verizon customers should leave the oppressive Verizon. The others might be a bit more expensive, the contracts might be a bit longer, but you will have more freedom with them.

Verizon hasn’t really make any changes for the customer when you think about it. In fact, by throttling video streams it will probably improve customer experience as congestion will be down on the network, even if our videos are quite as sharp. All it has really done is give ammunition to its competitors and a reason for its customers to leave.


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