Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
net neutrality, throttling, unlimited, video

Companies:
verizon



Verizon Will Graciously Now Let You Avoid Video Throttling For An Additional $10 Per Month

from the you're-welcome dept

Back in February you might recall that a little something called competition forced Verizon Wireless to bring back unlimited data plans it had spent the last few years insisting nobody really wanted. But the plans nobody wanted or needed wound up being so immensely popular, they caused some very modest slowdowns on the Verizon network. As a result, Verizon announced last August that it was getting rid of its truly unlimited plan, and replacing it with a series of even worse "unlimited" plans that throttled every video touching the Verizon network. For good measure, Verizon proceeded to ban 4K video streaming entirely.

Fast forward a few months, and Verizon has now introduced a new "solution" to the company's own caveats. Starting on November 3, Verizon will be graciously allowing you to pay them an additional $10 per month to lift these arbitrary and artificial restrictions:

"The company said on Wednesday that it would offer the option for consumers to stream 4K quality video -- if they're willing to pay $10 extra a month. The option becomes available on Nov. 3.

The nation's largest wireless carrier by customers walked back its move from two months ago, when it introduced several new variants of its unlimited data offering -- but restricted video to only 720p quality. The cheapest version of the plan reduced video down to DVD quality. The carrier faced backlash from some consumers who complained about the quality cap.

Charging you more money to obtain the truly unlimited connection you used to enjoy has become pretty standard procedure. In 2016, Sprint began throttling video, games and music unless users paid them an additional fee. The vagueness of our existing net neutrality rules opened the door to this kind of behavior, and once the FCC belatedly began realizing these kinds of arbitrary limitations could be used anti-competitively late last year, Trump and FCC boss Ajit Pai had arrived on the scene, eager to gut net neutrality rules entirely.

The problem is that once you open the door to carriers building arbitrary restrictions as to what you can do on the network -- and charging you arbitrary fees to get around them -- it will never stop. Investors demand their improved quarterly returns, and the pressure will be unyielding to use these kinds of arbitrary restrictions to nickel and dime consumers in perpetuity. And with the looming Sprint T-Mobile merger reducing sector competition, and the Trump administration acting as little more than a mindless rubber stamp for the interests of the sector's biggest carriers, there's not going to be a whole lot in place to stop it.


Reader Comments

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  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 5:43am

    So... are they actually doing content interrogation on these data streams to see what's inside... standard def, HD-junior (720p) or 4K? Or are they looking at transfer rates and QOS data, and making a guess? It would be interesting to know whether they've "got eyes on" everyone's content, just like our Most Benevolent Overlords in the security sector.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 7:03am

    If video streaming customers are being charged by the Verizon, can Netflix and friends charge them for the use of their content, just like the content companies do for delivery over cable? After all, the principle is the same Verizon is making a profit of of their content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Peter (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 8:30am

      Re: Actually, ....

      ..., since Verizon enables Netflix to sell premium HD-content, it is only fair that Netflix shares the extra profit with Verizon. A little contribution towards Verizon bearing the cost installing the internet cables, you know.

      Once you got rid of regulation and competition, your arguments don't have to make sense - you can charge whatever you want if the only alternative for customer is going back to newspapers and DVDs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 9:08am

      Re:

      It does not matter. The more one company charges other for its services ie Netflix charging more to Verizon or Verizon charging more to Netflix is bad! As all those increased costs from any company will be passed on to YOU, the final customers, in the form of higher prices.

      The solution is NOT to make one company retaliate to other by increasing prices, this will always end in higher prices to consumers.

      The solution is to make ALL companies stop charging ridiculous prices for stuff or putting ridiculous "simulated" technical obstacles.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 11:08am

      Re: Turtles, all the way down

      Netflix will charge Verizon a percentage of the fee, then Verizon will charge Netflix a percentage of that fee, then Netflix will charge Verizon a percentage of that fee...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 7:20am

    Hats off... more money for nothing

    You have to admit... there is something ingenious about getting people to pay $10 more for literally nothing. I mean... for $10 you could buy a subscription to Netflix, which gives you access to thousands of hours of content. Verizon is literally giving you nothing; just removes an arbitrary block that they put on in the first place.

    Yup... we don't need no stinkin' net neutrality rules... #verizonknowsbest

    But don't worry, if you use Verizon's GO90 streaming service, I bet that bandwidth restriction would be exempt... It is already 'included in the price'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 7:52am

      Re: Hats off... more money for nothing

      "Yup... we don't need no stinkin' net neutrality rules..."

      ha ha ha... you don't need them. It was the government via your blessings that gave Verizon this power.

      But hey, go ahead shot yourselves in the foot again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wyrm, 27 Oct 2017 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re: Hats off... more money for nothing

        Trusting the facts to match your usual anti-relation rant... Funny, but as well as usual.

        The government here didn't "give the power" to Verizon to scam their customers. The government here removed himself from preventing that.

        So *you* got exactly what you asked for - less regulation - and Verizon magically became honest and ethical... not.

        Hence, that's not "with our blessings" since that's the exact opposite of what citizens asked.

        You keep pointing at "regulation" being the problem when "systemic corruption" is.

        And I'm pretty sure that, should we remind you that monopoly and abuse of monopolistic position are the obvious direction things would take, you'd mention that antitrust laws are all we need, defeating your own argument that we need no regulation at all.

        That's funny at times, but a little repetitive overall.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 11:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Hats off... more money for nothing

          "The government here didn't "give the power" to Verizon to scam their customers."

          They definitely did, but you are free to keep your head buried in the sand. It's been working really well so far right?

          "So *you* got exactly what you asked for - less regulation"

          less regulation is just a play on words. Utterly meaningless rhetoric in the end. I want actual less regulation, the type that gives consumers the power. Pai is doing none of that. The only thing we both agree on is that Pai is a piece of shit. The difference is that the efforts of those that think like you put him there.

          "And I'm pretty sure that, should we remind you that monopoly and abuse of monopolistic position are the obvious direction things would take, you'd mention that antitrust laws are all we need, defeating your own argument that we need no regulation at all."

          Ah... more lies, just can't resist can you? Since you are so willing and ready to intentionally distort things and lie, why does it surprise you that politicians lies to you so much? You obviously approve of the behavior. This is what makes you deserving of people like Pai. First clear up the corruption that you trade in yourself before whining about another persons corruption.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 5:38pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Hats off... more money for nothing

            You know people might actually take you seriously if you stopped insulting them. Well that and had a coherent arguement...but you be you Mr nom nom all your paint chips belong to us.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 9:11am

      Re: Hats off... more money for nothing

      It is NOT genius. Everyone who has been paying attention saw this one coming. And many more. As the article says, if net neutrality is killed this kind of "geniality" will never stop.

      You cynical attitude does not bring anything to the discussion and it is just stupid. And their move is not genius, it was totally expected (at least to some of us).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 7:31am

    720p

    When they restrict video to 720p are they re-coding the video or just only letting the video dribble in to the receiving device? If they are re-coding it then aren't they "copying" it and shouldn't the MAFAA be getting up in their business about it? Or, it's ok, they are a "friend of ours" we're _sure_ that they aren't up to something with the videos.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Machin Shin, 27 Oct 2017 @ 7:52am

      Re: 720p

      They just throttle your transfer speed down so anything higher than 720p can't stream smoothly. Then the video provider automatically gives you the lower quality so you can watch the video without constant buffering.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: 720p

        Could a VPN solve this? Make the video look like normal internet traffic. Also, are there VPN's that are actually must faster than the throttled speed anyway?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 10:16am

          Re: Re: Re: 720p

          Expect even worse throttling, because of the data gathering activities that they can no longer do.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 9:29am

    and $6 of the $8 goes to Pai, i suppose, for destroying net neutrality and customer protections! this is going to be the first of a freight of piss taking increases for customers, just wait and see! there needs to be some serious action taken over him and his supporters for what they are doing and if possible, some legal charges laid

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 27 Oct 2017 @ 11:23am

      Re:

      You have no idea how corruption scales. It will be less than 10¢ that goes to Pai in kickbacks, and it will still be a windfall. If 10% of the population were political representatives, bribery would become too ineffective to be worth the hassle. But as it stands, it's by far the most cost-effective way to do business.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 9:58am

    A solution to stopping this or ending our deficit: Make roads work the same way as your ISP.

    1. Create a fast lane and a “faster” lane that people can access based upon how much they pay. The fast lane will be the same speed as the "faster" lane but be half as wide, have 2x the traffic and be maintained only when absolutly necessary.

    2. Charge by the mile driven. Offer “unlimited” driving plans that actually cap you at 100 miles a day and start charging you $1 per mile for every mile over.

    3. Cut deals with the auto makers so that the brands that pay $X million annually are exempt from 1, 2, or both.

    4. Add a lot of hidden below the line additions when announing the costs for 1 and 2.

    5. Tell the public the laws will change to reflect what the ISPs do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vidiot (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 10:38am

      Re:

      Ever travel on I-95 in Maryland? Toll-encumbered alternative roadways, placed alongside free interstates, are offered to provide a superior, faster driving experience... except that often isn't the case. They use dynamic, on-the-fly demand pricing, so you can never really calculate the value proposition as you approach an entrance. And they're limited-access... might just miss your exit. Watchdog groups estimate they'll never, ever generate enough revenue to cover the immense cost of construction. And it all sounds just like your analogy! Thanks to you, I'll be thinking ISP instead of I95 when I'm streaming past those "fast lanes".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 1:38pm

        Re: Re:

        Don't give the ISPs ideas! Now they are going to make the "faster" lane cost vary based on network congestion!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 10:24am

    Second verse...

    History tells us paying the additional service fee will only reduce Verizon's throttling... which you will soon be able to reduce further by paying higher fees.

    Remember even their unlimited service wasn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 10:31am

    How soon until . . .

    I can see it now.

    Verizon's Internet Gold package. Only $29.95 per month extra. What do you get? The ability to connect to:

    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Google
    • YouTube
    • Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Starz
    • Gmail
    • Google Docs (spreadsheets, word processing, etc)

    If you don't like that, then try Verizon's Internet Silver package for only $19.95 per month which enables you to access:

    • any cloud storage service (DropBox, Google Drive, etc) offering you lots of free storage space
    • Amazon.com
    • Amazon Prime video
    • Online discussion forums

    Otherwise, without the Silver or Gold package, you are still able to connect to any other internet sites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 3:49pm

    "Verizon Will Graciously Now Let You Avoid Video Throttling For An Additional $10 Per Month" ...... until it doesn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2017 @ 9:23am

    Put a sell order in with my broker this AM.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Verbal Gerbil, 28 Oct 2017 @ 6:40pm

    Yet Again

    Here's another good reason why I run my own VPN (600MBps, too) and I've not been throttled by comcrap or vzw since. OpenVPN for 'droid works very well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2017 @ 6:43am

      Re: Yet Again

      This is not a solution. As we all learned from T-Mobile their answer to VPN is: we'll throttle it if we don't know what it is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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