Everyone likes high-speed Internet access, and it’s a convenient thing to have on the go, but combine it with data-capped mobile plans and it can present a secret curse to consumers who care about budgeting. When PC Magazine’s Sascha Segan tested out Verizon‘s newly unveiled 4G LTE network, she found that her tests maxed out at 21Mbps; just 32 minutes of data usage at that speed could burn through Verizon’s 5GB data allotment. While Verizon also offers a higher-capacity data plan — 10GB for $80/month versus the 5GB data plan’s $50/month — it no longer offers an unlimited data plan, and customers who go over their allotted caps must pay an additional $10 for each gigabyte they go over the cap.
Segan concedes that this test is not indicative of average user experience of the network, since the LTE network won’t hit speeds that high once it’s loaded with people; however, Verizon claims that it’ll still max at 8.5Mbps; an hour and eighteen minutes of data usage at that speed burns 5GB. Or, if you’re focused on real-world applications, Netflix HD, at 3.8Mbps, could blow past 5GB in under three hours, less than the length of longer feature films.
TechDirt’s Mike Masnick is withering in his criticism: “Maybe, instead of just focusing on more speed for press releases, they should focus on building capacity so that people could actually use these next generation networks.” At the least, hopefully as the network gets more populated, Verizon will offer lower prices and unlimited data plans, but until then, customers will want to monitor their usage carefully.
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