Earlier this week, Verizon made a controversial change to its data plans that throttles all smartphone video to 720p at best. Tablets, on the other hand, will have a ceiling of 1080p for video. The limitations will also apply when customers use their smartphones as mobile hotspots. The move, which is effective as of now, makes it impossible to stream 4K video on Verizon’s mobile network.
“We’re doing this to ensure all customers have a great experience on our network since there is no visible difference in quality on a smartphone or tablet when video is shown at higher resolutions than 720p on phones and 1080p on tablets,” Verizon announced.
Regardless, the news should come as a blow to both existing and prospective Verizon customers, given how straightforward and simple Verizon’s unlimited plan used to be. Those who already have Verizon plans, unlimited or not, should already see their video throttled 720p on smartphones and 1080p on tablets. New customers, who purchase Verizon’s single-line “Beyond Unlimited” plan, will have to shell out $85 a month to enjoy the same video quality.
Verizon also unveiled a cheaper version of its unlimited data plan that costs $75 a month for a single line, with the caveat that video will be throttled to 480p on smartphones and 720p on tablets.
Rather than convert the video to lower resolutions itself, Verizon told Ars Technica that it will restrict the bandwidth for all mobile video and allow the video applications to do the rest of the legwork: “We will manage HD video throughput by setting speeds at no more than 10Mbps, which provides HD video at up to 1080p video”, a Verizon representative said.
Though Verizon also claimed to Ars that “[m]ore than 96 percent of customers have not used 4K video,” the move is sure to irk many new and existing Verizon customers. Fortunately, there is a way to avoid Verizon’s video throttling: virtual private networks, or VPNs.
A VPN encrypts your data, making it essentially impossible for your carrier to tell whether you are streaming video. Though the VPN may slow your internet speeds, it will help you avoid Verizon’s bandwidth limitation on video streaming so you can enjoy higher resolution with fewer delays and interruptions.
If you’re a Verizon customer, we recommend you check out lifetime subscriptions to VPN Unlimited and Disconnect VPN, which cost $49.99 each.