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?

There Are 112 Comments

  1. Must be Verizon uses that “new math”, how else is unlimited usgae = 5 GB per month? :evil:

    • Better than at&t with 2 gigs. If you use 5 gigs of data in a month u are pretty much constantly on ur internet.

    • If your smartphone is constantly send/receiving why’s there a cap? Does this also affect the users that are grandfathered in? Kind of supid math if you ask me.

    • At&t has done the same thing. I use my computer for my my masters degree, since I am attending online classes, and for my work since i have to have online gradebooks and lesson plans. I come close nearly every month. I use to actually have unlimited with AT&T but they changed it when they saw that they could get more money! This has actually hurt me in looking for things for my degree and my classroom. I hate it and think that they need to go back to unlimited!

  2. Oh yeah, I guess the same people who did the math are the ones who wrote this agreement. :)

    • I’ve have AT&T iPhone since they came out with em. Started with unlimited and to this day have UNLIMITED with AT&T. Have never had a problem. Have several friends and family members who were grandfathered in also. I live in Kansas. So all the others who say they weren’t grandfathered in need to contact AT&T. It says right there in ur contract hard copy or on the Internet, that they honor those who are renewing contracts, upgrading phone, etc. I’ve had every iPhone as they came out and thought with the 5 it would be different but NOPE. Like I said earlier I purchased unlimited package when I purchased phone and have it to
      this day… Someone’s getting ripped off.

  3. Obviously the data plan is unlimited for very small values of unlimited… disgusting behaviour.

  4. Obviously no one is talking about the fact that this is wireless not cable. When data is going wireless it’s very expensive cause of the large avian network that’s needed to carry bits from Verizon to your mobile.

  5. If I have the service for an unlimited number of months, then unlimited * 5GB = unlimited. So no, they are not lying.

    • Ridiculous. Unlimited is a term that refers to how you use it, not how LONG you use it. Who do you work for, Verizon? It’s called sophistry at best. Fraud at worst.

  6. Anonymous wrote:
    Obviously no one is talking about the fact that this is wireless not cable. When data is going wireless it’s very expensive cause of the large avian network that’s needed to carry bits from Verizon to your mobile.

    What we are talking about is bait-and-switch marketing. I don’t believe anyone assumes that it’s easier to transport packets of information wirelessly, but when Verizon markets to its consumers that they will have “Unlimited” bandwidth for a set monthly fee, they are falsely advertising it’s capabilities.

    Think about it the other way – if unlimited means 5GB to Verizon; and you, the consumer, are paying $70 for unlimited, then by proxy – the service should then be free for only 5GB. They put a maximum on infinite size, you remove the minimum infinitely from cost.

  7. 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.

    Some idiot at Verizon got the math wrong. The 100-200 MB per hour, 10 hours per day, 7 days per week adds up to 30-60 GB’s per month – NOT 5 GB!

  8. Cranston:

    Who got the math wrong? Verizon computed 30 and said that it was more than 5. You computed 30 and claimed that Verizon was wrong. Bzzzt!

    Hint: 30 is more than 5.

  9. We all know that Verizon can’t do math. It took an internet uproar for that guy who went to Canada who had an unlimited data plan on his phone in the US, and was quoted “.002 cents” per kilobyte something like 4 times, but was charged “.002 dollars” per kilobyte.

  10. I call:

    CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT!

  11. Forget anything about what the service can actually do or what it costs verizon per bit of data moving through the air. They say you have unlimited data transfer per month and they don’t offer it, plain and simple. It’s deceptive and they should be sued for it. If you cap it at 5gb, then say in the advertisement that you offer ’5GB of Data transfer per month for $70′

    I hate how products are now sold with unlimited stamped all over it, and when you read the fine print they slap the cuffs on. It’s a sad sad legal situation.

  12. No class action lawsuit! Has there ever been one that benefited consumers, rather than lawyers and the defendant? A bunch of lawyers make a pile of money, and Verizon settles by offering $20 off coupons for wireless service (providing you renew your contract, of course!!). It’s better than an advertising campaign.

  13. The best thing to do is have a class action lawsuit. They are committing fraud by advertising it as unlimited, and yet, still have it limited. This is a load of crap.

  14. I LOVE DIAL-UP INTERNET!!!

  15. Anonymous wrote:
    Obviously no one is talking about the fact that this is wireless not cable. When data is going wireless it’s very expensive cause of the large avian network that’s needed to carry bits from Verizon to your mobile.

    Obviously Verizon is not understanding that “Unlimited” ought to mean just that. If it’s too expensive to pay for that much bird seed then they need to raise the rates or lower the limits.

  16. “No class action lawsuit! Has there ever been one that benefited consumers, rather than lawyers and the defendant? A bunch of lawyers make a pile of money, and Verizon settles by offering $20 off coupons for wireless service (providing you renew your contract, of course!!). It’s better than an advertising campaign.”

    Even if the consumers don’t get the money, hopefully it will cost them enough in both time and dollars that they will be less likely to do it again.

    Reminds me of when I was an AT&T customer that made the mistake of switching to a new phone shortly after the merger with Cingluar. They told us all that we would be able to use the full network, but that was a bold faced lie. The end result? The worst cell service I have ever recieved in my life (including the brick phone days) combined with Cingluar employees trying to convince me I was imagining it.

  17. All the more reason to go with another provider. Sprint has much better data service anyway, here I go!

    • Ridiculous. Sprint has the same 5gb cap. They’re all in this “unlimited” deception together, and they should all be made to pay for it.

  18. JC wrote:
    The best thing to do is have a class action lawsuit. They are committing fraud by advertising it as unlimited, and yet, still have it limited. This is a load of crap.

    Yet the agreement everyone signs clearly states the bandwidth cap, and people still don’t read the LEGALLY BINDING SERVICE AGREEMENTS.

    As long as people continue to just click and agree without really looking at what they are agreeing to (mostly young people), forget about suing Verizon or anything like a class action lawsuit. It would be a huge waste of time because Verizon would just show the contract that YOU SIGNED!

    • As I fall into the category of ‘young people’ your argument immediately loses credibility as soon as you blame us for the whole’s mistakes. were the earlier examples only ‘young people’? If Verizon is hiding the fact that their ‘unlimited plan’ is actually 5GB, then that is false advertising in my opinion – even if deep in their contract you can find disclaimers that say they can do so. Verizon is intentionally trying to trick people into thinking it is unlimited. That’s what is wrong here, your ‘LEGALLY BINDING SERVICE AGREEMENTS’ in its scary shocking capital letters does nothing to say whether Verizon is morally justified in trying to scam people.
      If someone pays for the unlimited data plan, they should be able to get unlimited data. Long story short – go fuck yourself.

  19. Anonymous wrote:
    Obviously no one is talking about the fact that this is wireless not cable. When data is going wireless it’s very expensive cause of the large avian network that’s needed to carry bits from Verizon to your mobile.

    I’m sure it is really expensive, but consumers are paying for what’s being advertised and Verizon is inappropriately advertising the wireless service. It would be like saying you get unlimited calling to anyone in the world anytime you want it on your cellphone…and then they terminate the service after you’ve used a few hundred minutes because that amount of use is considered inappropriate. As the other commenters have pointed out this isn’t right for them to do that.

  20. FYI some dialup limit you to a limited amount of hours. I remember back when I was in high school, I would run 56k from Friday 3pm until Monday morning. A good weekend was 0 disconnects.

  21. If you want to get out of your contract with Verizon, then, just use 5GB/month, and they’ll cut you off. Sounds like a winner.

    • Nope, that’s not how it works. Once they terminate your service, they will charge you early termination fee, because according to their agreement, to which you legally agreed, you’re the problem, since you used over 5GB, therefore used their service inappropriately, hence they had no choice but terminate your service. But it doesn’t lift your liability for using their service for the duration of the contract. So, as crazy as it may seem, they WILL charge you the fee!

  22. (iii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections

    Could that have anything to do with the fact that Verizon sells that as a service?

  23. So if you signed up for stuff like watching video news, sports, youtube, whatever on your daily 1 hr (each way)
    NJ-NYC commute you should get your termination notice about mid month…

  24. note to self: keep pr0n surfing under 5 gb/month.

    I mean, VPN traffic under 5 gb/month.

  25. isn’t it nice that in Germany at least a data service with 5 GB of monthly volume costs about 25 € (or about 33 $), less than half the price of an unlimited Verizon service

  26. My experience with the big “V” is their services are a bit expensive (except DSL) but pretty good quality & reliable. I’m not surprised by this 5 Gb deception at all, I’ve seen worse from them. It fits them to a ‘T’ along with nickel & diming at every opportunity. Of course, that’s just like most any large corporation today.

  27. Maybe they should call it “Unlimited Access Plan” instead of unlimited data, because you have unlimited access to the internet but you’re limited by the amount of data you can download?

    UAP sounds better too, could be pronounced “you-app”

    • that would just be a way of spinning the truth. they should just come out and say 5GB per month. plus what happens when u reach the 5GB cap because they wont let you access anything at that point so it would be wrong anyway.

  28. John wrote:
    If you want to get out of your contract with Verizon, then, just use 5GB/month, and they’ll cut you off. Sounds like a winner.

    Yeah, but what isn’t mentioned in this article is that when you go over this limit, not only do they disconnect your service, but they charge you an enormous “disconnect fee.” I read another article months ago about someone who used this service for completely legitimate reasons (email and web browsing) but because of the nature of his job, he pushed the bandwidth limit. Suddenly, his service was cut, and Verizon was demanding insane amounts of money. As if disconnecting actually costs them anything…

  29. I am one of the lucky Verizon customers who had their service terminated. The termination fee was waived, and when I called to complain, I had my service reactivated for free. A few weeks later I did the same thing (was terminated, and called for free reactivation).

    I pointed out to their regional manager that they were on shaky legal ground, having sold the service as unlimited. Sure, I may have exceeded 5GB in a month – but the TOS did not include that provision when I purchased my plan.

    Good to see that Verizon is being a little more forthright. Of course, they will reconnect you for free if you ask them to. They would rather not lose their customers to Sprint, and clearly that is where folks will go if they are terminated.

    Is it a hassle? Yes. Despicable? Yes. But it’s just a load of carp, and they won’t hold you to the limit.

    • Could you get a new plan with a phone download more than 5 gigs, get your plan terminated and sell the phone for a profit?

      IE the phone with a plan is going to be a lot less than one that has been unlocked and doesn’t come with a contract.

      Example my Iphone is 150 bucks with a plan but if i was going to buy it without one its 400 dollars…

      could you potentially make 200 dollars a month doing this?

  30. @DS: At least you were lucky and got reconnected, but as you mentioned that is definitely a hassle to have to call each time to get setup again.

  31. I wonder how long it will take before cable/DSL providers implement the same sort of caps with bigger numbers? Seems like everyone’s talking about the impact of YouTube, BitTorrent, etc. on the “last mile” providers.

  32. I would think that these providers would have to start meeting the demands of the users, which are definitely going to increase as video sharing continues to get more and more popular.

  33. That statement is fine until this line: Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above,

    That is not worth the bits used to display the characters. As a US citizen we are presumed innocent(Patriot act notwithstanding). That statement says they are presuming you are guilty. This is blatantly unconstitutional, and would not hold up 30 seconds before an honest judge. Who is the lawyer that wrote this? Albert Gonzales?!?!

    Personally from what I’ve researched on their websites, Sprint has better coverage on the higher speeds in my area anyway.

    What is with the ‘spam protection’? Last I knew 2 7=9, yet it wont let me post!

  34. If I stream Verizon disconnects. How can I get it to keep from disconnecting me. I know there is a way.

  35. so can i play online poker for 10 hours a day and not go over the 5gb

  36. Anonymous wrote:
    Obviously no one is talking about the fact that this is wireless not cable. When data is going wireless it’s very expensive cause of the large avian network that’s needed to carry bits from Verizon to your mobile.

    Actually I believe this was an amazing and subtle attempt at humor. You see ladies and gentleman, “avian” is defined as anything having to do with birds. I think the man was simply stating that a large network of birds to carry your data back and forth would be exceedingly expensive. Of course, I could very well be wrong.

  37. verizon sucks. i hate verizon. if verizon was a stuffed animal, i’d beat it with a stick.

    • If verizon were a stuffed animal, I’d strap tannerite to it and send a .270 bullet it’s way

  38. lol, sprint has a truely unlimited plan. I use it as backup for my comcast cable connection that seems to crash daily.

    • No, they do not….they also are on the 5GB limit like all the rest except for those in 4G areas and then when you ask when 4G will be in your area they cannot provide you the answer

  39. 5GB is a lot more than you’d think

    • Not the point

    • 5GB is a lot less than you’d think

    • I cruise at a monthly bandwidth usage of 30-80GB happily. 5GB is ridiculously small if you ask me.

    • 5GB is tiny. The entire internet was up in arms over Comcast’s *250GB* cap. It’s basically denying you all the multimedia that makes the internet worthwhile, and it stifles innovation.

    • Get broadband at home for $20 a month or use your friends for their wifi you poor saps. Stop complaining on this website and go cry to the attorney general. I’ve never heard so many with so few friends(w/wifi).

  40. I thought the avian network was hilarious.

  41. FYI Verizon seems to have changed their terms of service and no longer reference a 5GB limit. Terms were updated 5/17/2009.

  42. “5GB is a lot more than you’d think”

    No, it isn’t. 5GB is exactly as big as I think 5GB is.

    My question is, why does my droid come preinstalled with youtube, if using youtube violates Verizon’s ToS? :p

  43. Youtube and other streaming stuff no longer violates ToS. And I quote:

    Permitted Uses
    You can use our Data Plans and Features for accessing the Internet and for such things as: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; (iii) intranet access (including accessing corporate intranets, email and individual productivity applications made available by your company); (iv) uploading, downloading and streaming of audio, video and games; and (v) Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

    Note (iv).

  44. I pooted and it is stinky.

  45. Comcast has a LIMIT OF 250 GB (seriously! huge difference!) and charges less for the service. I just switched. I’ve had no problems with speed or connection.

  46. hi..so, there is NO TRUE unlimited Verizon plan? i am looking to get the best broad band card, that will work in Pa, Va, and MD. My friend says he has an unlimited plan, but when i went to the Verizon site, all it said was 5GB.
    So any suggestions–Sprint? a better plan?
    thank you–kerry

  47. I purchased the same unlimited plan when it first came available. I have been told time and time again there is a 5 gig barrier. However I challenge them every time to stop me. Then they back off and say that I fall under a grandfather clause. I download all I want in a month and still have not been dropped. I have a copy of the agreement and it states pretty much what is said above, except there is no mention of 5 a gig barrier, nor does any law state what the definition of internet activity is. However if I upgrade to a newer modem from the usb 720; then I will have dropped my previous grandfather account. I still don’t think they can do that either. I will more than be happy to draw a class action suit against verizon if they do drop me.

  48. so yeah. i was reading the forms cause i heard about the 5gig cap. and got kinda scared cause i have been using my phone for internet connection on my laptop. so i actually called verizon. and talk to one of there employes. the 5gig cap is for those of you who use the wireless card. and he told me that my phone truely gets unlimited data. so get a cell phone like the droid. and bam. instant unlimited access and data.

    • I have a wireless card that I got years ago. My plan is “unlimited” and I have no refrence to a 5gig cap in my contract… They put a bandwith restriction on me once until I talked to cust service… That may apply to some of you but not all of us…check your contract… not that a 5gig cap on unlimited plans is not crap anyway

  49. I have this stick. I love it. Was never told to have another internet provider. Only have this one. Never told streaming would go against the downloading of 5gb. Got my bill last month and it was 412.00. I called them and told them I always hear 3 beeps after I shut down the stick, like someone is online with me. I have never ever used up 5gb and then for the last two months I have been way over. No way. Someone is downloading off my stick. Now I owe another 170.00. Is there another stick like this out there where I can use my laptop on the train and car anywhere? I do love it as it is so handy.
    Thanks

  50. How many baseball game can I watch with 5 Gb for the month.

    • Depends on the format and size of the video. A streaming video having a duration of 2 hours can yield up to around 3GB of bandwidth if the video is an HD video. If the video is of normal quality then it may only take around 1.8GB. The average length of a baseball game is 2.5-3 hours.

      To answer your question probably about 1-3 baseball games per month, depending on length and quality of the video) without going over the 5GB data limit.

  51. Just got hit for $198 in data charges on my previously “unlimited” data plan. And I even pay for an unlimited plan on my Droid, too! I have had a wireless card from Verizon for at least six or seven years, hardly ever used it, and last month I had some internet problems at home and used my card pretty heavily for two weeks. Total data was 12GB, which included backing up to a new online backup service (since I thought I had truly unlimited data.)

    I’ve sent an email to Verizon customer support. I’ll post their answer. Beware, they won’t disconnect you, they’ll just rape you with overage charges!

  52. I have a Verizon USB727 card with a grandfathered number, so I have unlimited data usage. Every time I get CS on the phone and they notice the ‘Unlimited Data’ statement they comment that ‘Hey, there is no 5G limit on this number’.

    I was warned by one of the CS folks that I had to be very careful about changing anything about the plan or device, because when I did, the 5G limit would become effective.

    And for Christy, yes, streaming will go against the 5G limit.

    For anyone that thinks 5G is sufficient, try it sometime. When i had a 5G limit on my previous card, I exceeded it almost every month and I watched the usage pretty close.

  53. I also have a grandfathered Verizon Wireless account with unlimited data and i am at 57216884.23 KB and my month is not over yet. I was going to change to ATT till i found out that my account would be 5 gigs and i was using 9.5 gigs at the time now i use it as much as i can.

  54. So i can download 10GB a month on my cell plan until they terminate it? Would i be liable for the early termination fee at that point? Talk about an easy way to end a contract.

    • Since the wireless providers make the rules, I would assume that you would still be charged the full termination fee, since they didn’t voluntarily terminate you, but did so as a result of you violating their terms of service.

  55. I’m really not too sure of this whole 5GB thing. I just got one, and my usage is 5GB a month I get on facebook and my school website, and just google at times. I’m scared i’ll go over my usage because i do not know how much usage 5GB is.

  56. 1,048,576 KB is 1 GB- so- 5,242,880 is 5GB
    Just check your Data usage in “My Verizon” and see how many KB’s you have used if you are unsure on how much you have used overall.

  57. Think about it. Air at a gas station is unlimited. Let’s say you bring in a tanker and would like to fill the tanker. If you were the owner of this gas station you would be pretty upset. Nowadays people dont get the happiness of free air because of all the air whores of the past.

  58. so if i want to get out of my contract all i have to do is use 5g of data???

  59. Just hit 5gigs on 4g and boom my phone is shut off….. and i have “unlimited DATA”

  60. I called bitching and they denied any limits and or any throttling but my data magically came back on lol im going to keep testing it…… im at 9gigs so far today lol

  61. Im a otr driver I have sprint service it is unlimited unless I tether my phone.so I rooted now I can teather all I want and they dont say anything because they think it goes to my smartphone

  62. I had considered purchasing a Verizon USB stick. I am very thankful for Google and CyberNetNews.

    “Unlimited” means unlimited. Nothing more, nothing less.

    All educated individuals with at least general public High School level intelligence ability fully understands that “Unlimited” implies “no data cap” or “restriction (s)” regarding use of device for “data transmission or reception”.

    Since most here have thoughtfully pointed out the deception employed to snare unwitting consumers into a deficient agreement, a good opening for corrective measures employed through Tort Courts is possible.

    I will not purchase the Verizon product either.

    Thank you!

  63. I just got a letter in the mail saying “as of oct. 16th 2011″ my unlimited paln would switch to 5gb, this can’t be legal. My “unlimited” contract doesn’t expire till dec. 2012

  64. I have just been informed that my plan is optimized so has been slowed down. I have an old, old plan and am grandfathered in. They have tried to screw me out of it several times and once I even went to the PUC to get them to keep their promises. I am sure my old plan did not have the 5G limit and so I guess I have to go back to PUC. I wish there was a REAL alternative but they all seem to be a cabal.

Leave Your Comment


Message is the only required field.
Emails are not published.