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October 4, 2006

Verizon Continues To Call Users Abusers

By Glenn Fleishman

Verizon Wireless gets dinged at the Washington Post for its restrictive metered use policy: I refuse to call Verizon’s EVDO “Unlimited” BroadbandAccess service by the unlimited label. It’s unmetered. That is, they don’t meter you for use, but they don’t give you unlimited service. In today’s account, a normal user is told that he “abused and damaged” Verizon’s network by the security department at VZW. They also charged him a $175 termination fee. I suspect that he can go to his state attorney general’s office and file a complaint and have that fee waived. He might be able to go to small claims court, too, and win a summary judgment because Verizon certainly won’t show up.

A Verizon spokesperson told the Post columnist that customers using the service for its accepted activities—email, Web surfing, and intranet applications—wouldn’t be considered excessive users. This, of course, contradicts the internal documents that have been scattered all over the Web and even letters from Verizon to its customers canceling their service. The Post writer notes that on Verizon’s site that they state if usage is “more than 5[gigabytes]/line/month, we presume use is for non-permitted uses and will terminate service.”


Now, I don’t want to be irritating and state that Verizon should allow every use in every case. It’s their network; they can set their unreasonable parameters. Neither they nor any other operator currently has enough spectrum to offer 3G services on a truly unlimited basis. You might get public pronouncements that there’s enough spectrum for that, but privately, and I’ve seen some of those documents, it’s not the case. That’s why Sprint Nextel is launching its mobile WiMax network in an entirely different set of spectrum, just for instance.

Fundamentally, Verizon should be consistent. I expect that if they annoy enough people with public statements, statements in writing, and contract statements that are at odds with one another, some legal beagles will launch a class-action lawsuit over the wording. This could be forestalled by simply stating there’s a 5 GB/month limit on all services, and that you are charged some enormous rate when you cross it, but you’ll be instant messaged repeatedly as you near the limit.

Posted by Glennf at October 4, 2006 9:46 AM

Categories: EVDO


Verizon is also fond of stating that EV-DO makes 802.11 redundant and outmoded. I have yet to meet an 802.11 hot spot operator that has a monthly transfer cap as restrictive as VZW.

Posted by: Matthew Gast at October 4, 2006 1:21 PM

I make my living dealing with 802.11 and even I am a loyal BroadbandAccess subscriber. 802.11 hotspots simply cannot hold a candle to 3G because when you're on the road most of the apps you run don't need super high speeds. What you want is Internet access everywhere and 3G is simply a better solution for that.

As far as this whole issue with Verizon canceling abusers, I find it hard to believe that anyone who is truly using the network according to the terms of service if being booted. I think what we're seeing is a lot of folks who've either cancelled their existing DSL/cable line or who are sharing their service 24/7 as Wi-Fi backhaul complaining because they violated the ToS and got caught.

As far as the Washington Post article goes, that is just plain crappy journalism. First of all, the writer brings up porn as the old ISP boogeyman, trying to make it look like Verizon is regulating morality. Then the guy they talk about in the article describes applications that use relatively small amounts of bandwidth (remote desktop, email, etc). Unless he is transferring large database files (a clear violation of the ToS), there had to be something else going on there. Why didn't the writer challenge him by asking how much bandwidth those apps use?

I'm glad that Verizon boots abusers. I want the network quality to remain high so that if I need it for legitimate use, it'll be there. Good job, Verizon.

Posted by: Rusty at October 11, 2006 10:57 AM

5GB/month? I can blow the doors off of that without even trying. New service? Let's see, I'll want a new machine, right? Well, got to grab an OS for it, so I dowload FC6. Bang. I've hit my monthly limit.

Ok, now I want to play games, and World of Warcraft works fine on FC6 under wine (one patch required to wine), so I grab that. The patch is 466MB and fires up a bittorrent client to get it, meaning that you can typically count on doubling that bandwidth over the long term. Now we're up around 6GB for the day... DAY!

Let's see, I like to browse the Web. That's no big deal. Oh wait, gotta grab Firefox 2.0 and all of my extensions. That's another 9.2M plus the size of those extensions, but I'll want flash for that. Oh and Acrobat reader! That's 42.1MB for Acroread and 1MB for Flash.

Now that I have everything I need, I can START using my connection. I'll want to browse YouTube to watch a few GB worth of videos. I can download some TV shows from Network web sites which is nice.

Then there's that game I installed. It doesn't use TOO much bandwidth, but it's not small either, and it can be darned-near constant all month during my off-hours if I'm an avid gamer.

I might even download the evaluation versions of a few other games.

Heaven forbid I should be a developer who is doing svn updates from a large project several times a day and downloading lots of new versions of development tools all the time.

5GB? Try 20 or so the first month and the same again spread out between now and the next time I get a new machine or OS version (probably 6 months or so).

I do so love my Speakeasy account....

Posted by: Aaron Sherman at October 31, 2006 12:56 PM

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