When a California fire department spoke out this week about getting "throttled" by a wireless carrier, right or wrong the issue of throttling joined the public discussion.
The Santa Clara Fire Department complained of being throttled by Verizon Wireless for going over its monthly allotment of what it said was 25 gigabytes, using the phone to coordinate and keep track of different personnel and fire trucks as they were fighting a wildfire. Verizon has since apologized and said it made a customer service error, should have lifted the throttling for the emergency situation and has now removed all data restrictions for first responders on the West Coast.
But what about you, dear consumer? You don't have the emergency card to play, just the monthly agreement with Verizon and AT&T that currently says you may get throttled if you go over 22 gigabytes.
We have two simple solutions and a suggestion:
• Switch carriers: T-Mobile and Sprint both say their throttling begins at a more generous 50 GBs of data.
• Use Wi-Fi more often: When at home and work, switch to Wi-Fi immediately and you jump off the wireless network, thus, you probably won't meet your monthly data caps.
But, ahem, Verizon, how about being a good corporate citizen? Stop slowing down service on your paying subscribers. Yes, throttling may save you a few dollars, but it certainly won't win you any friends --lawmakers have already called for hearings on the issue.
If T-Mobile and Sprint can make it a matter of business policy to not throttle at 22 GBs, certainly Verizon, the company that reaped over $125 billion in 2017 revenues, can afford to be nicer to their customers.
Verizon, after all, is the same company we wrote about here last weekend that's planning to launch super high speed 5G service in four markets later this year. So consumers are supposed to sign up, marvel at the super fast service, and then get penalized once they start using it with a throttle?
That probably won't win Verizon great word of mouth.
The average consumer uses about 7 gigabytes of monthly data, according to Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics. But folks who enjoy watching Netflix movies and YouTube videos come in much higher. And let's face it--we all watch a lot of Netflix and YouTube, so expect us to using more data, not less.
Talking Tech tried out the data survey on AT&T's website to see how much data we might use. We got to a hypothetical 7.72 GB monthly for sending and receiving 1,000 monthly emails, listening to eight hours daily of streaming music, surfing the web and creating 335 social media posts. Add in 40 hours of watching standard-definition video, and it jumps to 35 GB monthly. It's 114 GB with HD video).
Being throttled isn't fun. When that happens, "they make it so slow it’s basically unusable," reader Bryan Klosiewicz noted on Twitter.
Josh Bernoff, an author and blogger, says that after getting throttled by AT&T for the first time, "It changed the way I use the mobile phone."
Yes, Wi-Fi is more widespread than ever and most restaurants, doctor's offices and retail stores have it now. But Verizon can chalk it up to bad customer service for throttling the fire dept. The fact is--this was a corporate policy. One that, thanks to the outcry and spotlight on this piggish corporate policy, will hopefully change ASAP.
In other tech news this week
• Retailer Costco added Apple Pay's mobile payment service as an option for consumers, bringing more options for consumers to pay with their phone. Recently, Apple announced that drugstore chain CVS and convenience retailer 7-Eleven had signed up. But the No. 1 and No. 2 physical retailer stores Walmart and Target are still not participating.
• The New York Public Library came up with a fun way to get people to think about the library and read a great book. It put the entire text of "Alice in Wonderland" on Instagram as an Instagram Story, wrapped it up in fancy animation, and some 40,000 people read the story.
• How do you like the sound of a drone that can zoom in on the action while up in the skies? Drone powerhouse DJI introduced two new models, the Mavic Pro Zoom and Mavic Pro 2, which includes a lens made by camera legend Hasselblad. The two new models are selling for more than $1,000.
• Fake News patrol: Google shut down 58 channels it said were linked to an influence operation run by Iran's state broadcaster. And Facebook said it foiled political influence campaigns originating out of Iran and Russia that targeted U.S. users ahead of the midterm elections.
This week's Talking Tech podcasts
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