PC Mag Claims to Have Hit 21Mbps on Verizon’s 4G LTE; Is a 5GB Cap Enough? [Poll]



The big story has been Verizon’s 4G LTE, lately, and while it’s great to hear of the cities getting it and great to know that there are MiFi devices out ready to take advantage of it, we really just want to know how fast it really is. PC Mag decided to do some usage testing to figure out how fast you could consume data using Verizon’s network, which would in turn tell you how fast you’ll need to fork over an extra $10 if you hit that 5GB cap.

They claim to have hit the theoretical max of 21 Mbps – doing what, where, and when, they didn’t say – but that’s not what matters here: what matters is how fast you can hit that data cap before this stuff REALLY starts getting expensive. At those speeds, you’d be eating up your monthly allowance of 5GB in just 32 minutes. Ouch. Knocking it down a notch, if you were streaming HD Netlfix content – which eats up 3.8Mbps – you’ll hit the cap in just under 3 hours. And streaming Hulu content at 1Mbps will take you just under half of a day.

While we imagine folks won’t have an issue hitting their cap in everyday moderate usage once 4G LTE phones are on the market (which, for now, we’ll assume will have capped data plans), those who might rely on their phones as mobile hotspots will need to use it sparingly. There have been many instances where I’ve needed to use my phone as a mobile hotspot for long periods of time and even just browsing the web eats up a lot of bandwidth. Throw in a few quick trips to YouTube and you might be in trouble. Don’t expect to do any heavy lifting over Verizon’s network if you don’t have the extra money to throw at them.

How do you guys feel about this? Mobile data caps are nothing new, but does a pay-per-gigabyte model really make sense? Would you much rather prefer to be throttled? Verizon says that as their network will evolve, so may the pricing model. Let’s hope they ease up on their overage model before they turn too many folks away.

[polldaddy poll=4190411]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. my vote is yes

  2. I’m okay with it. It may not be enough some day, but the overage charge is pretty close to the cost per GB. It isn’t punitive like cell phone minutes where you pay a 100 times more than you pay when you go over. So I find that acceptable.

  3. This is a huge step in the wrong direction. If you told me that data speeds wouldn’t be getting any faster for the next 10 years but data prices will get cheaper I would be fine with that. I’m not sure if I read it in an article or if it was a comment from someone on here or on another site but the following statement is so true: “Carriers love the tiered data policy because it’s confusing to the average customer. And we all know the more the customer is confused, the more money the carrier makes.”

  4. people have to realize this, nothing is free. people have to think from their point of view. or maybe you should go to their headquarter and ask them to let you be the CEO for 1 day and learn how the business world works.

  5. forgot, i support 5bg cap.

  6. 21Mbps down using Ookla Speedtest.net with IE9 on an Intel Core i5 laptop running Windows 7 slightly inside a cafe at 74th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan on the evening of December 1st, if you really want to know.

  7. Sorry, typo, that’s IE8.

  8. Too expensive. I’ll stick with my unlimited 3g plan. NO WAY I could afford the LTE plans for my wife and I. I would rather see the wireless companies charge different speed plans – instead of data amount plans. Data usage will only continue to rise. But, if the companies keep charging more for the data they will price themselves out of what the consumer can afford.

  9. @Sascha haha, thanks friend!

  10. So is the base plan the same as their 3G plan and they simply tac on another $10 a month for anything OVER 5GB data used? If so, that is better than what Sprint offers. For their “4G” you pay that extra $10 fee no matter what (admittedly you are uncapped though).

  11. I don’t understand. So because the speeds are faster, we’d hit the cap faster? Shouldn’t it matter on how much data you are actually using, ie, downloading movies, streaming, etc be what causes data usage, and NOT the speed? If I am able to download a 2GB video in 2 minutes as opposed to 10 minutes, isn’t the same amount of data used?

  12. My vote is No. A higher speed does not mean my usage patterns will change… it just means that what I normally do simply gets completed faster. And if I am unaware of what my usage patterns are and blow my monthly bill out of the water, then only I am to blame and this product with limitations wasn’t for me anyways.

  13. Someone has to let the companies that are capping data know that it simply doesn’t make sense.

    Technology is supposed to be innovating, not becoming more restrictive.

    I’d say the average person who watches video (a primary reason people go online) and surfs several hours a day would EASILY hit 100gb or more each month. That’s 20 times the 5gb cap!!

    Data plans can be tiered, that’s OK… for occasional email checkers, let them pay $20 a month… but there MUST be an unlimited option in the $60 range (that’s what I get with Sprint).

  14. I think it is awful to have all this great technology evolving at the rate that it is, where phones, tablets and other portable devices can do so much, only to be limited to unforseen expenses. I prefer a higher price (if need be) and unlimited data.

  15. @The One – yes, you are correct in your statement. I think the point is that this new speed unlocks great new potentials (it is basically like a cable line now), so people are going to be using a lot more data in less time simply because they can (no waiting involved). I do agree that it is a flawed argument to calculate how fast one could burn through 5gb of data this way though. By the same definition, one could probably burn through 5GB of data in a day or two under their 3G network as well.

  16. @ Romma – that is what I am trying to udnerstand. The way they make it sound in this article is that there is a 5GB cab at the base price, and then if you go over that it is uncapped for another $10 a month but you only pay that $10 IF you go over the initial 5GB cap. I could be wrong in this, but that is how this article seems to be worded.

  17. @zi, please hold off with the capitalism lesson. Why can’t anybody right anything from the consumers point of view without someone trying to give an econ class? It used to be the American way to try and offer a better product at a lower price. It’s not that way any more. These days more money is spent on trying to trick customers into thinking they are getting a superior product for a higher price then actually looking into ways of providing that product. Forget 4G,we would be looking at 5G or 6G products and services right now if these companies took half of their advertising budgets and spent it on R&D.

  18. Im confused perhaps someone can clear this up. So having a faster data speed uses more data?? so if I download the same youtube video over 3g and 4g, the 4g would use more data?? Wouldnt it be the same amount just faster? Sorry for myignorance, thanks.

  19. Bela I’m really just questioning if a 5GB cap is fair now that these new speeds enable us to get there faster. Before, you didn’t see it because you barely used the data. And 3G speeds didn’t really encourage people to do more than use their daily round of apps. But with 4G, the marketing has essentially been “What will you do with your 4G?” which is basically asking “how are you going to use it up?” The thing is that at the same time that they want to keep the load on their network down, they still WANT you to use more data, but they don’t want to be lenient in pricing. Yes, if you were to constantly max your 3G connection out, you’d probably still hit the cap before the month is up. In this article, I’m just wondering/asking if it’s time for a change, really.

  20. @JJ read my response to Bela above.

  21. I know, It write not right, sorry about that.

  22. 5 gigs isnt that bad, once again it all depends on how much data you consume each month. I average around 2GB a month with my rooted droid, but then again I dont watch videos because 3G makes watching videos extremely painful lol

  23. I know, it’s “it’s” not “It”. I’ll just shut up now.

  24. Looking at the way how the internet is becoming all wireless (Clear 4G for example) I thought about cancelling my home internet to save money. Went to all wireless stores and talked to their reps. The rep at Verizon couldn’t believe it when I said that on average I probably download 100 GB per month. Heck, that weekend I had just downloaded a few Linux distros to try out which was easily over 10 GB just there. So, I’m not sure where the bottleneck is for the reason of their limitation. Why would it be a problem if everyone had Verizon 4G wireless cards installed on their laptops, streaming Netflix, or downloading something huge like a new game on Stream?

  25. As usual, Verizon is doing it wrong. Verizon still has that “toll collector” mindset. They did the same trick with texting at first – set the “free” limit too low and reap the “overages” from duped customers who gave their teeny-dweezil kids a phone. I see a pattern here.

    Fortunately there is Sprint.

  26. I have seen blueray movies that were 8gb.

  27. @Jason – the bottleneck exists in the air itself… there’s only so much “air”… the spectrum is limited, and it can’t be expanded in the way a wired service can be, and multiple providers can share the same wired pipeline, including your wireless carrier… but when it comes to what happens between your computer and that tower, “everyone” using it to stream netflix, download games, or what have you will cause a huge bottleneck.

  28. I’m a bit distracted over PC Mag’s claim. Here’s my issue, the peak of VZW’s LTE is really around 70mbps on the DL. I haven’t seen any claims to have hit this peak, but it’s certainly more than the quote in the piece of 21mbps. That happens to be HSPA+ peak (that ATT and TMO have deployed.) So all of your comments apply, I agree the cap is a bit silly, since VZW’s service is really capable of much greater speeds than what’s been discussed.

    Gizmodo had some speed trials on their page…http://gizmodo.com/5704797/verizon-lte-speed-test-insanely-fast

    Putting together some background information on LTE if you are interested: http://www.sonlte.com/technology/lte-reference/


  29. Higher speeds will absolutely change your usage patterns, and you do have to be concerned about going over. The only fair way to deploy LTE is going to be with limits. The good news is that you can choose 5GB or 10GB per month and that Verizon will alert you at 50%, 75% 90% and 100% of your allocation. This should give you plenty of warning before you get into overage situations. If a lot of people use up their allocation, I am sure that Verizon will add another tier. Let’s give it a chance before everyone says that they need unlimited bandwidth…

  30. I wouldn’t have a problem with tiered pricing as long as one of the tiers is unlimited. Something like:
    5 GB – $30
    10 GB – $40
    20 GB – $50
    UNL – $60

  31. here in Canada, a home speed of 10mbps is considered fast :O but 21mbps on a mobile network is crazy o_O

  32. Holy shit, that’s about 6 times faster than my home connection! D:

  33. Maybe your home connection will get about 6 times faster overnight then… kinda like how magically “wideband” cable internet popped out of nowhere when FiOS came to various cities in the US to match their speeds. ;-)

  34. I know VZW hit 30 mbps in field tests, and they were averaging 5-8 mpbs in Jersey with about 2 bards of signal.

    I believe if you modify your NIC setting you can hit higher #’s.

    I have heard that they are looking at the smart phones as possibly pay by the Data (GB) or as paying by max speed. So that they could Govern you to max of 5 mpbs, or 10 mpbs, or over 10 mpbs. Of course that would be odd, because they can’t guarantee the speed you’ll see.

  35. @TF
    There will only be a bottleneck if the antennas and the servers in their towers can’t handle the traffic. Not because the waves ran out of “air” to propagate. Lol. I don’t mean your thinking was wrong, just the way you expressed it.

  36. So we are being groomed on 3G to make use of the unlimited data plans. Is that so when 4G hits, we will still be data hogs and create more revenue for Big Red?

    Mn, I am so looking forward to a dual core processor, ffc, and 4g…but if the pricing is going to be like this, I’m not so sure I want to evolve. I like my Droid with unlimited data much more than a 4G data cap. SMH

  37. Ahem. I hate to say I told you so, but…yea. I mentioned the other day how quickly one can burn through data at those speeds. I mentioned that I did that on my DROID using T1 access. Comparable, on a laptop its even easier. 3 hours of netflix hd. Thats a Saturday night for some people. I’ve used that much data waiting for a flight streaming family guy episodes. Im just saying, speed is a double edged sword. The quicker the connection, the easier it is to blow through your data.

  38. @Jason,

    If you actually averaged 100GB/month, most companies, including Comcast, Cox, etc etc, wouldn’t want you as a customer. That amount if absolutely ridiculous and you would be destroying bandwidth.

  39. @ the one

    100gb is a month is not that much on a broadband connection. I have comcast in chicagoland and we have a a 200gb monthly “soft cap” I stream tv on my computer all day while working etc. Pretty each to reach that usage.

  40. Wow! Some of you folks need to seriously investigate data usage. 5GB is nothing. Verizon is setting some fools up for a fleecing with the overages.

    The problem with old-mindset companies like Verizon is that they always start off screwing their customers and later become a little more reasonable. Some prison-camp psychology at work.

  41. sorry but Verizon has all the broad band it needs to bring out any device or service it wants at any time and especially while standing in front of shareholders – it only doesn’t when trying to explain it’s participation in the monopoly that has formed on mobile services.

  42. Verizon is just way too expensive period. I understand they have to pay for their new network somehow but geez, I am sticking with T-Mo.

  43. Oh come on. You can buy faster fixed-line broadband with a lower cap, and people choose to do so. The carriers costs are based on the amount you use the service, expecting to not have data limits is just idiotic.

    And yes, maybe you can hit the limit in 32 minutes. So what?

    If I go buy my car a new set of rear tyres, put them on, turn the steering wheel all the way one way and give it lots of throttle – then after a few minutes spinning around I’ll be needing some new rear tyres. It’s an outrage! I’ve not even traveled any miles! And it’s the same from all the tyre manufacturers! Think of the children!

    Grow up people.

  44. @ chris wilson

    low cap broadband is for people who only check email and browse the web. do you have any idea how much data is transfered when streaming *1* HD movie?

  45. @ Chris —

    Your analogy is ridiculous. You should be comparing intended uses. The intended use of internet is typical data streaming (thus, people hear have commented how many people typically watch a netflix movie or two in a night, and would already go about the 5gb cap). Your analogy, if you insist, should be about tires that wear out after a few minutes of regular driving. Yes, that would be an outrage, and it’s not less outrageous than data plans that are exceeded within a few hours from typical consumer usage.

    Go away.

  46. You people complaining about the cap do know where just talking about mobile broadband. It’s not talking about your cell phone unlimited internet data plan. Verizon has not released any information about the cell phone plans on 4G.
    These are the same caps that verizon already had on mobile broadband. But the service is 10 dollars a month cheaper than it was on 3g.

  47. I’m ok with my cable internet. I will get concerned Once I see what the LTE pricing will be when the phones hit market. They better be competitive because I have no problem going to sprint if not.

  48. For all you who can’t seem to find a reason why this cap is a problem, let me demonstrate a real life example. Lets say you are a sports fan. You happen to be traveling and want to catch Sunday Night Football, which NBC simulcasts on their website, or your hometown NHL team’s game on NHL Center Ice (live webcast from NHL.com). With 3G, this would have been a very terrible experience, very blurry/choppy, barely even worth doing. Now with LTE, you can watch these games at upwards of 3.0Mbps (NBC and NHL.com’s max allowed bandwidth). Do a little math, and after a 3 hour game you could have very well used over 4 GBs of data. Congrats, in one evening you’ve destroyed your data limit just because you wanted to watch a game. Still having trouble seeing why these caps are a problem?

  49. AT&T has not deployed 21mbps HSPA+ only T-Mobile has but further more being that LTE has JUST been deployed those numbers are of no significance because pretty much nobody is using the towers yet. I will wait till they get devices and after a month to see how their LTE network does.

  50. The only people who wouldn’t hit a 5gb cap are those that don’t always use the network and their android phones. Its extremely easy to use up 5gb’s by using a fast network. stream a movie done in a matter of hours. Downloading apps, surfing the web. All these things people call “heavy” users, really these “heavy” users who use more than 5gb’s a month are normal users doing what android (and the network they are on) was intended to be used for. So many say they never hit over 1gb or 2gb’s but that is because they really aren’t using it or the network it is on. We need higher caps or at least a true unlimited data plan no cap nor throttle. Smartphones are becoming mobile computers and with that said computers alone eat up so much data when used for internet.

  51. Thats why I chose Sprint because they have no data cap, just like with their 3G

  52. Sorry to say but the cap isn’t 5BG. vzw also has a 10GB data plan out there for LTE, it’s $80

  53. I’ve got an idea, DON’T STREAM HD MOVIES ON YOUR PHONE! You aren’t entitled to get everything you want, would it really hurt you that bad to wait and watch that movie when you got home, not to mention it would be on a screen large enough to not destroy your eyesight. I use around 3 GBs a month, and I surf for at least an hour every day, sync two email accounts, the News and Weather, and hotspot my laptop every time Suddenlink goes out at the apartment (almost every other day) for about an hour as well. Just because the network is faster, doesn’t mean that you have to do ridiculous things with it. You don’t HAVE to download that Blu-Ray movie onto your phone just because you can, you don’t HAVE to stream that NFL game just because you can. If you want to do that, then be prepared to pay more, simple as that. You have to pay to play, don’t like it? Don’t play so much.

  54. I have Sprint 4G. I use my Evo as a hotspot and am gobbling up about 70 gig a month with a pretty consistent 5mb connection. I do Hulu, and Netflix as well

    I see no reason to switch from Wimax to LTE.

  55. Verizon has found a way to make more money. We used to go over our minutes but now we watch them. Now that we use smartphones alot Verizon is counting on us to go over our data cap and use that as a good reason to charge extra. With the new smartphones like the droids, iphone 4 and the new lte phone coming out next year, like the article says we can go over capped data in 30 minutes. Mo money for Verizon. The unlimited data for 30 bucks will probably be upped to 40 or 50 dollars. Mo money for Verizon.

  56. People will complain either way. If it’s capped, they’re mad because they’re limited. If it’s not capped, it means they’ll be complaining when it starts lagging when people start using it excessively for large amounts of streaming/uploading/downloading, etc. I, personally, wouldn’t be able to handle a 5GB cap…but, I average over 5GB on my phone now with the 3G coverage. So, if that becomes the case–if they make it 5GB for the data tier–then I’ll probably opt to stick with my 3G device until the plan options change.

  57. The way I see it, there are two modes of service Verizon is concentrating on: mobile handsets and mobile modems. Clearly the handsets will have somewhat self limiting services. The modems are a different story. The problem that exists here is that heavy usage needs to be compensated for with more network capacity OTA and that costs money. If you go out and buy a USB stick, your expectation is usage anywhere in the 4G footprint and thus the revenue has to compensate for the entire footprint infrastructure. I could see Verizon getting into the home broadband business with their LTE network, to reach customers that don’t have a Verizon hardline, but that’s a bit easier to accomodate because the assumption is a fixed access point. The revenues in a particular area from fixed addresses can, in part, be directed towards investing in the capacity in that particular area. The understanding would be that the base station would not be moved. That would likely result in more reasonable rates and unlimited offerings.

  58. Hello, there is an 10GB plan for $80 for higher end users, also with no cap. Every GB over is $10 as well

  59. 5 gigs? really thats BS!

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