We’ve groused about Verizon’s definition of "unlimited" cellular data service for years, most recently culminating in New York’s slap on the Verizon wrist for defining unlimited as 5 GB. They were found liable for terminating customers who exceeded 5 GB of bandwidth on their "unlimited" account and as a result said they would be restating their terms of service (TOS) to indicate more accurately what you may and may not do under the data plans. Reader Ron P just sent us a notice that Verizon has posted their new TOS and sure enough they have cleared up what limits they may be placing on customer’s usage and what they will do as a result. This includes a very interesting clause about throttling users who exceed the 5 GB limit, which is still alive and well with Verizon:
If usage exceeds 5 GB per line during any billing period, we reserve the right to reduce throughput speeds of any application that would otherwise exceed such speed to a maximum of approximately 200 Kbps. These speeds are subject to change, in our reasonable discretion, in order to address network issues.
This is the first we’ve heard of Verizon considering speed throttles and as usual the devil is in the details. While 200 Kbps is pretty slow the statement that these speeds are subject to change means they are leaving open the option to basically shut your speed down for over-using their network. So they won’t terminate you but can just shut you down. You should note under the acceptable usage listed in the TOS that "automatic data feeds" are not permitted meaning no automatic RSS feed checking. Ouch.