“War is peace.” “Freedom is slavery.” “Ignorance is strength.” And now thanks to Verizon, we have a brand new Orwellian slogan: “Unlimited data plans are limiting.”
Verizon recently published a blog post written by Jack E. Gold, the founder of technology industry analyst firm J. Gold Associates LLC. The goal of Gold’s post is to explain to simpleton Verizon customers why they really shouldn’t be tempted by the unlimited data plans being offered by carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile.
While Verizon has put up a disclaimer at the bottom of the page saying Gold’s views “may not necessarily reflect those of Verizon Wireless,” let’s be honest: There’s no way Verizon would have published this piece on its website and retweeted a link to it Monday morning if it was explaining why wireless carriers should enthusiastically support being reclassified as common carriers under Title II.
So what are Gold’s arguments that you shouldn’t want unlimited data plans? You’ll be shocked to learn that they rely on poor logic and sleights of hand.
Gold starts out by noting that if Verizon started offering unlimited data plans again, customers would consume more data, which could present traffic management issues during peak hours. This is a fairly uncontroversial view, although many experts don’t think strict data caps that slap users with overage fees are the most efficient way to manage wireless traffic at peak hours.
Where Gold really reveals how stupid he thinks we are, however, is when he explains why we shouldn’t even want Verizon to upgrade its network to handle this increased traffic.
“Invariably, degraded networks would cause the carriers to seek upgrades to their networks to increase capacity,” he writes. “Much like highways that need to be widened for peak rush-hour traffic, this would require major investments that someone would have to pay for – that someone being the subscribers.”
This is ridiculous. If subscribers were really that fearful of price increases then they should have been begging Verizon to never upgrade from 3G to 4G. After all, the upgrade to LTE was a major investment and according to Gold, major investments are something wireless users should be fearful of.
Gold also doesn’t bother addressing the particular way Verizon has decided to enforce its data caps. T-Mobile and Sprint, which offer capped plans in addition to unlimited plans, do not charge you overage fees if you exceed your limit — instead, they just throttle your speed down. While no one likes having their connections slowed, they sure like it better than getting hit with big fines because they posted one too many photos on Instagram.
Gold’s conclusion is that Verizon’s emphasis on “keeping adequate speed and performance while allowing all users to share the limited commodity we call wireless data is the fair way to deal with wireless connectivity.” Of course, this commodity is only as “limited” as it is because Verizon has placed its own arbitrary limits on it.
We’ve seen in the past that when Sprint decides to increase data allowances on its capped plans, Verizon has quickly rushed to follow, which implies that there’s no real conflict between mobile traffic management and increased data use at this level. Instead it looks like carriers just intentionally placed very low initial limits on how much LTE subscribers could consume and hoped that no one else would call their bluffs.
Verizon, of course, would like you to believe that its spectrum-rich wireless network is a delicate flower that will wilt and die if it’s forced to undergo any further data strains at peak hours. But as we’ve observed many times in the past, Verizon also seems to think we’re all really, really stupid.