Verizon Now Refuses to Stream 1080p to Any Smartphone, Period

Before this change, Verizon's unlimited plan had cost $80 for one line and the data plan placed no limits on mobile video streaming. However, contrary to the unlimited choice that it promises, Verizon has limited video streaming to only 480p on its Go Unlimited plan. But this week the carrier announced it will be splitting the original plan into three different new options: Go Unlimited ($75 for the first line), Beyond Unlimited ($85 for the first line) and Business Unlimited (prices vary). The plans go into effect on August 23.

Verizon is making some adjustments to its unlimited plans for new and current customers that inch us closer to the world in which buying a mobile subscription will feel as complicated as buying health insurance.

In addition, surpassing the 22GB mark on an unlimited plan will still result in throttled speeds, as will going over 15GB of tethered data on plans that include it. But there's a catch: For $5 less a month in price, you get severely throttled video, with streaming being limited to the "DVD-quality" 480p on phones and 720p on tablets. As its previous unlimited plan offered full HD resolution, users who choose Beyond Unlimited will now be paying more for roughly the same service.

Get all that? Simply put, video quality will be reduced for new customers on unlimited plans to what Verizon cheerfully refers to as "DVD-quality". After Wednesday Aug. 23, whatever plan you're now paying for will drop 1080p access and also match the "Beyond Unlimited" HD quality - 720p on a phone. Previously, customers were only throttled after consuming 22GB of data. Mobile hotspot speeds are capped at 600 kbps.

Mike McCormack, analyst at Jefferies, says Verizon will slow video streaming for some subscribers "to preserve the quality of the network".

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"Unlike the relatively straightforward #unlimited plan that Verizon surprised customers with in February, these new monthly plans are chock-full of fine print and caveats", Chris Welch writes for The Verge.

There is good news for businesses that want to equip employees with unlimited data. Last month, users on social media found that Verizon had been capping their video streaming rates on all apps to around 10 Mbps, which is significantly below what the carrier's LTE network can typically provide. Mobile hotspot receives up to 15GB of high speed data before being slowed down to snail speeds.

The company claims that nobody can tell the difference between 720p and higher on a phone and 1080p and better on a tablet, claims which are clearly ridiculous on an iPhone and iPad. The company has had to deal with less money coming in from fees charged when customers go over data limits, as unlimited plans don't have those fees. For the tablet owners on the unlimited plan, the maximum video quality will be of 1080p on your device. You have to spend a couple extra bucks on an add-on to get HD video and a usable mobile hotspot allowance. Rivals AT&T and T-Mobile already have a similar tiered offering.

It's technically unlimited service, but it sure won't feel like that in practice.

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