Verizon WirelessBack in August of 2006 I wrote about a guy who had his unlimited Verizon EVDO Wireless Data Service canceled because buried deep into the Terms of Service (TOS) they mentioned some things that were unacceptable. Some of these things included downloading/streaming music and videos…which is what the Internet is all about these days.

At the time Verizon didn’t explicitly state that their unlimited service really was limited, but I was looking at the service once again yesterday for someone and decided to see what the terms look like 7–months later. Now they explicitly come out and say that their unlimited plan can only be used for up to 5GB a month otherwise your usage will be considered unacceptable and your service will be terminated (the bold text points out the important things):

Unlimited Data Plans and Features (such as NationalAccess, BroadbandAccess, Push to Talk, and certain VZEmail services) may ONLY be used with wireless devices for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email, and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force, and field service automation). The Unlimited Data Plans and Features MAY NOT be used for any other purpose. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous uploading, downloading or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (ii) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine–to–machine connections or peer–to–peer (P2P) file sharing; or (iii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services and/or redirecting television signals for viewing on laptops is prohibited. A person engaged in prohibited uses, continuously for one hour, could typically use 100 to 200 MBs, or, if engaged in prohibited uses for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, could use more than 5 GBs in a month.

For individual use only and not for resale. We reserve the right to protect our network from harm, which may impact legitimate data flows. We reserve the right to limit throughput or amount of data transferred, and to deny or terminate service, without notice, to anyone we believe is using an Unlimited Data Plan or Feature in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts our network or service levels. Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above, and we reserve the right to immediately terminate the service of any such person without notice. We also reserve the right to terminate service upon expiration of Customer Agreement term.

So all the service is really good for is viewing websites and sending emails since you cannot download or upload anything. They say that sending emails is okay, but what about if you constantly have large attachments in your email which results in high bandwidth usage? Does that fall under the download/upload restriction that can terminate your account, or is that considered acceptable use since it is an email?

One of the other restrictions that they mention is that you must have another Internet service as well since you cannot use it as a substitute or backup of a dedicated Internet connection. Even if all you do is check emails for work, you must have another Internet connection as your primary source for access.

So why would anyone use the service? Many people use it because their employers pay for it, and I’m sure they never inform their employees about what they can and can’t do with it. For that reason, a lot of people are “inappropriately” using the service which is good news for Verizon because they can terminate your account whenever they want. I look at it as Verizon’s way to cover their own back since they can sell the service to as many people as they possibly can, and then when their network starts to see a pattern of overall heavy usage, they can just terminate the people who use their accounts the most. This will maximize their revenue while keeping the network usage to a minimum.

I definitely understand their reasoning for limiting the service to only 5GB of bandwidth per month, but what boggles my mind is how they can advertise this as unlimited when they explicitly say that any usage over 5GB will cause your account to be terminated?