According to Verizon's announcement, "we're doing this to ensure all customers have a great experience on our network since there is no visible difference in quality on a smartphone or tablet when video is shown at higher resolutions than 720p on phones and 1080p on tablets".
Verizon claims this is all about network management, but these new plans wipe out what was widely considered the best unlimited plan on the market. When launched, Verizon briefly held a bit of an upper hand as their plans did not limit video resolution and Verizon was actually able to force T-Mobile and Sprint to adjust their plans.
Unlike the previous plan that allowed Verizon to cap the data speed after crossing 22GB per month limit, the Go Unlimited plan lets Verizon cap the data speed any time without any speed limit mark. That's not completely unwarranted: OpenSignal found that average LTE speeds on Verizon dropped after the move to unlimited, so it's clear that some people are using data so often that they're bogging down the network.
Verizon will officially begin throttling the quality of video on its unlimited plans, starting August 23. You still get unlimited talk and text, and unlimited hotspot usage, though hotspot speeds are capped at 600 Kbps.
Customers who buy a new unlimited data plan can get higher-quality video for an extra $10 per month. But there's a catch: For $5 less a month in price, you get severely throttled video, with streaming being limited to the "DVD-quality" 480p on phones and 720p on tablets. The Beyond Unlimited plan will offer 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot speeds per month and reduce tethering speeds to 600kbps after that. There's no going higher even with a laptop and mobile hotspot.
And of course, Verizon is trying to spin this as being a good thing for customers.
"Moving forward, HD video on all legacy plans will also match Beyond Unlimited's HD quality", Verizon said.
What do you think about Verizon's decision to throttle video streaming? If everyone is streaming video over the network while waiting at the airport, for example, that's going to put the crunch on the network.
What's unfortunate about these plans is that smartphone customers can no longer watch a video in high-definition (HD). "Our network has never been stronger", Klein said. Verizon was testing throttling on Netflix and YouTube earlier this year, and third-party researchers have determined that unlimited plans were slowing down networks. It's technically unlimited service, but it sure won't feel like that in practice.