The largest mobile network provider in the United States has put an end to high quality streaming options with the announcement of new unlimited data plan options. Verizon was previously testing reduced video quality on Netflix recently, and this appears to be the reasoning for the trials.
There are three new unlimited plans to choose from on the Verizon network. The Go Unlimited plan offers truly unlimited data, talk and text, as well as mobile hotspot capabilities. Unfortunately though, there are plenty of nuances found in the agreement that make the plan far less attractive than it may first appear.
Mobile hotspot speeds are limited to a meager 600kbps. That's right, not even a 1mbps connection if you want to use your device as a hotspot. Additionally, there is no allotment of prioritized LTE traffic. All data use is subject to reduced speeds at any time Verizon deems the network to be congested. Video streaming is limited to 480p on smartphones when using an LTE connection without any option to obtain higher quality video. Tablets at least get a bump to 720p video, but with many smartphones and tablets having 1440p or even 4K displays, it seems rather disappointing to be limited to standard definition or only a small step above.
Verizon's second unlimited option is the Beyond Unlimited plan. This gives you priority on the network for the first 22GB of data used, although this is bumped up to 25GB if you are willing to sign a two year contract on a new smartphone or tablet. Video streaming is raised up to 720p for smartphones and 1080p for tablets. Mobile hotspot receives up to 15GB of high speed data before being slowed down to snail speeds. Calling and messaging to Canada and Mexico are also added to the Beyond Unlimited plan, but it is fairly unlikely that this will be the main attraction.
The third of the three new plans is the Business Unlimited plan. It is somewhat of a hybrid between the previous two. Streaming is limited to 480p on smartphones and 720p on tablets. Mobile hotspot receives 10GB of high speed data or 15GB with a two year contract. Calling and texting to Canada and Mexico are included on the plan.
Unsurprisingly, in order to receive the same level of service compared to older plans, the new plans do in fact cost more. Previously, no limitations were placed on how LTE data allowances could be used. Users exceeding 22GB of data use could be given reduced speeds, but were free to stream at whatever resolution desired even if it meant waiting for buffering.
The biggest disappointment of all is that regardless of your current plan, all video streaming on Verizon will be limited to 720p for smartphones or 1080p for tablets. Whether this complies with net neutrality rules or not is extremely questionable, but Verizon thinks that it can justify this change in service. Verizon has declined to comment on why the changes are being made.
Full pricing and availability of services can be found on Verizon's website. All changes take effect beginning August 23, 2017.