September 16, 2014 Jessica Sims
Verizon 4G LTE So Too Fast For Unlimited Data Plans?

Verizon 4G LTE So Too Fast For Unlimited Data Plans?

Broadband services tend to get faster year after year, and there is a rumor circulating that Verizon’s 4G LTE is so exceptionally fast that the company might need to reconsider making unlimited mobile broadband plans available, at least for an unknown period of time just after the introduction.  The problem is rather simple, but somewhat ironic: 4G LTE is just so incredibly fast that consumers might be prone to overuse it.  Verizon is no stranger to fast broadband services, but many people tend to associate Verizon with their DSL or Fios offerings instead of their wireless broadband services.  Perhaps this is a strange oversight considering that Verizon Wireless is a coast-to-coast operation, and therefore serves a greater number of markets than any other form of Verizon-powered broadband.

How does Verizon’s implementation of 4G LTE stack up against DSL, Fios, and other types of broadband services?  Reports from field trials in early 4G deployment regions such as Boston are currently reporting download speeds of 50 to 60 Mbps, which is extremely attractive.  Whether these speeds are attainable in real world situations, with hundreds or even thousands of customers using the same antennae and network infrastructure, is certainly debatable.  This means that 4G LTE speeds will be extremely competitive, perhaps even between DSL and Fios speeds.

Too Many People + Ultra-Fast Wireless = No More Unlimited Bandwidth

While there is no official word on whether or not Verizon Wireless will offer an unlimited usage 4G LTE plan or not, it would stand to good reason that Verizon Wireless would have some concerns.  Before discussing those terms, it is important to note that Verizon Wireless currently their caps ‘unlimited’ plans at 5 GB per month in order to protect themselves from consumers that will use their broadband access non-stop, placing undue stress on their network resources.  There is ample justification for such a limitation, as broadband giant Comcast also has caps in place for their unlimited cable modem services, and many other providers offer similar caps whether or nor not they are entirely forthwith about them.  Such limits may not be disclosed in the simplest of language in all cases, and may fall under the portion of the contract that discusses unilateral termination.

The bottom line is that broadband access can only be affordable to consumers when providers are able distribute their expenses amongst as many consumers as possible.  Consumers who use an undue amount of resources are essentially ruining the experience for other consumers, and thus need to either be charged extra or have their contracts terminated.  With Verizon’s ultra-fast 4G wireless broadband service, the company may be at a point where their offerings are so fast that a 5 GB monthly data cap is simply not practical.

New Devices = More People

Another factor that might be weighing heavily on Verizon’s decision making process is the fact that mobile devices are on the crest of becoming fast enough to make full utilization of existing mobile broadband technologies, and devices capable of making excellent utilization of 4G services should be available in a year or two at the most.  These devices are also coming equipped with enough power to make web browsing, media playing, and even media editing possible without the long pauses and slow performance that have characterized mobile devices until very recently.  The net result is that consumers might begin adopting wireless broadband in record numbers, which means that companies such as Verizon Wireless need to do what they can to protect their interests, specifically those relating to the ability to serve their customers well.

Verizon could also invest additional funds in deploying additional 4G network infrastructure, but Verizon is a publicly traded company with a responsibility to be profitable.  Profitability means that any expenses that Verizon incurs while deploying new networks will need to be recovered via higher fees to their consumer base.  The proliferation of new devices that might attract consumers should help make fee increases more reasonable, but only if customers adopt such devices and/or Verizon Wireless 4G services in large numbers.  In short, the future is something of a gamble for Verizon Wireless, and using bandwidth caps with per usage fees helps protect the company for undue risk.  It also may help teach consumers to behave in responsible ways regarding their data usage patterns.

The Verdict

There are so many variables to consider, but a few things are clear.  Firstly, Verizon’s 4G looks like it will be incredibly fast, and that is a very good thing.  Second, Verizon’s existing bandwidth caps are very generous, and are hard to reach with most mobile devices unless one is using a broadband modem and a laptop 24/7.   Lastly, Verizon is likely to deploy 4G services in stages, with major markets receiving the upgrades first and secondary markets receiving the eventual 4G roll-out over time.  This should give Verizon plenty of time to fine-tune their offerings to meet the needs of consumers, and that is ultimately the goal of any company.

14 comments on “Verizon 4G LTE So Too Fast For Unlimited Data Plans?”

  1. Jack says:

    5 GiG is ridiculous to begin with. This year i was fortunate to get rid of Starband which has caps of 5 gig per month as well. 5 Gigs is not enough to do anything but open News articles. You can;t even consider d/ling a movie or Music. You can’t play games which is one reason to have a faster speed. My Fiber is 75 gig a month which allows me plenty of room to surf, but more important i do NOT have to keep a constant watch on my limits.Paying some $50 or so a month is not cheap and people deserve better than 5 gigs for that.

  2. Fred says:

    5 gigs? That’s nuts. A single HD movie takes up that much space. So, if you watch one HD movie, you can’t use your modem for the rest of the month??

  3. Jeremy says:

    Hughesnet gets away with a daily usage limit as well…..if you cant watch movies, youtube etc…why do I need the high speed for, to reach the limit in an hour or less? I can see a limit, but it must allow the user some room to breathe.

  4. 5 gb is ridiculous !!! CLEARWIRE WIMAX 4G is unlimited !! Yes unlimited for just $45 per month, and the speed is decent: 3-6 mbps download, sometimes i even get 9 to 10 mbps. Verizon is for rich people, CLEARWIRE is for the masses.

  5. Wesley says:

    Clear sucks in NYC. I decided to buy their service over Verizon’s 4G LTE because I liked the idea of having unlimited data. I could never reach the minimum advertised 2mbs in my house and averaged out at speeds less than 1.2mbs. Upload speeds never topped .17mbs. The very next day I went to the Verizon store and bought a 4150L Mifi hotspot. On the very first connection and test in the store in Manhattan I hit 8.88mbs down, 3.56mbs up. In my house in Brooklyn I got up to 10.97mbs down and .75mbs up. There is no comparison in the service. I would much rather take a data cap with outstanding service, then unusable service. Clear disconnected and searched for the network multiple times; I didn’t have one disconnect with Verizon. And I am not a Verizon fanboy, I tried to leave AT&T to get a Verizon iPhone thinking it would be better and went back the next day as well as AT&T’s 3g dusted Verizon’s 3g, I’m talking 4.59mbs down vs. .67mbs down. But when it comes to 4G service, Verizon is King. Long live LTE.

  6. JP says:

    “Second, Verizon’s existing bandwidth caps are very generous, and are hard to reach with most mobile devices unless one is using a broadband modem and a laptop 24/7.”

    I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and used 4.8 gb of data downloading a game patch to transfer to my laptop later in under an hour. 24/7? I hope you don’t watch more than 2 or 3 Netflix movies on your next business trip or you’ll be out of data. I can’t imagine anybody wanting to use their $500-600 mobile device for that!

    Ironically, the “responsible data usage” will only encourage users to pirate movies and music since they can’t afford to utilize streaming services and must download them instead. Brilliant.

  7. John Doe says:

    Let me ask this? Is there a Cap on data If somone where to Root there Phone and set up Teathering without paying for it ? if so i wonder how long it will be before they combate this? Or am i not on the same Page ?? Im new to this Thanks

  8. Paul says:

    If you are on an old unlimited Data plan for your smartphone with Verizon, and you upgrade to a 4G device, you are “grandfathered” in and get to keep your unlimited data plan. This also applies to the tethering service. So for an additional $30/ month, you can use your 4G smartphone as a wireless hot spot with unlimited 4G..

  9. N says:

    I just got off phone with Verizon rep yesterday – on hold for 15 minutes first then took about another 15 minutes to decipher all info & then be transferred to customer rep, etc. – a pain to spend that much time on something I already seem to overpay for. Alas, I can’t live without my lil HTC. Anyway, I had recently switched from an aircard to a 4G wireless router – my bill doubled! Of course, they wouldn’t admit it was due to the switch but of course it was! Don’t go 4G, get broadband at your house then either use local wifi or use your phone as a tethering device with your laptop when away from home – all much cheaper.

    • Margaret Buckingham says:

      I just bought a Verizon tablet, it uses 4gLte………am I being charged for using it, and why can I not disconnect from it and use my own wifi while at home

  10. JD Denton says:

    All rooting your phone does is allow you to play with the full options/capabilities of your phone along with installing stuff from SD cards and/or phone’s storage. Rooting your phone and tethering just means you’re tethering without paying for the actual service from your provider but you’re still using your data plan from the provider when you’re tethering so the cap still applies.

  11. latebeat says:

    I too completely disagree with the verdict. 24/7? Just runing a speedtest a couple of times a day will get you off your allowance in a week!! Let alone that 40-50mbps is so damn fast that it could easily kill all your data allowince in a single day.
    Like it was previously mentioned in the comments, HD movies/ youtube videos are out of the question without an unlimited plan… so is using a laptop with your ultra fast connection to do things beyond what we were able to do before with normal 3g

  12. Christian says:

    okay. Thats why we have wifi. And i watch like ten movies a month on my galaxy tab 10.1 and i only use like 3 gb and im constantly downloading apps and surfing the web. Thankfully i still have “unlimited” internet(5 gigs) but how hard is it to have it so when youre home, your automatticly connected to wifi

  13. Dan says:

    A week into my plan, and i’ve used 75% of the 2GB limit on my ipad3. No movies, or video even watched.

    Im looking at $50/month now and no movies, youtube, etc!!! I might as well DROP LTE and pick my CLEAR up again for $45 unlimited!

    2GB LTE limit is a joke for the ipad3. If it’s 10x faster, Verizon need to push the limits by 10x (20GB) also!


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