Will Verizon Un-Throttle my Data?
June 18, 2017 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I purchased a Verizon mobile hotspot on Friday. I also purchased an unlimited 4G LTE data plan. I need this to do work for my actual job while my band is on tour. Apparently, I've gone over the 10GB in 2 days and I'm now throttled back to 3G.

My band is on tour for two months I need to do work almost every day for my database administrator job back home. I need to use Remote Desktop most of the time so I need a reasonable data connection, which is why i paid extra for the unlimited plan. The excessive data usage was due to some background process on my mac doing some icloud photo sync stuff and some other OSX online indexing crap. (i've shut all of that stuff off, needless to say, UGH.)

If I call Verizon tonight or tomorrow, do you think there is a way I can get them to un-throttle me? I feel so so stupid. I'm still paying the full amount, obviously -- is there anything special I can say to get a better chance of getting this resolved?

I am in the USA. Currently in Idaho or something. I reside in Baltimore, MD, and the device was purchased in Seattle, WA. The tour is a 2 month festival tour sponsored by a certain kind of sneakers. My band name is in my profile.
posted by capnsue to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
When I worked at an ISP, we gave customers the option to top up their data for the month. This would mean that their speed was no longer shaped. A quick look at some questions and answers on the Verizon Wireless page leads me to believe that they offer this option too, but do confirm that by calling them or by logging in and checking your account info.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:14 PM on June 18, 2017

Apologies, I somehow missed the part about you being on an unlimited plan (I thought you had a 10 GB data cap and had gone over). Hopefully you get an answer to your question about throttling.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:17 PM on June 18, 2017

See if you can use your smartphone's mobile hotspot option instead. Otherwise-- Buy another hotspot or smartphone, then return one.
posted by cmcmcm at 9:09 PM on June 18, 2017

Yes, they can. A friend of mine contracts with the same carrier, and has had this occur a handful of times, most recently last month. Just tell the truth in what you're looking for and how it happened, and be prepared to be on hold for a very long time, transferred back and forth between different agents and departments, and possibly hung up on.

Protips: be friendly. Smile while you're talking. Ask them if you can give them a callback number in case you get disconnected. Again, tell them truth. Ask for a "warm transfer" if they ever say they're going to transfer you to someone else. Be persistent. Do not hesitate to call back if you get a negative response.

Edit: Apologies, lost my mind and forgot that you were talking about the mobile hotspot. My friend's situation involved his personal phone. Nevertheless, I do not believe there should be a difference in protocol.
posted by herrdoktor at 10:01 PM on June 18, 2017

You might be able to get them to un-throttle you, yes. You are not the first person to have experienced some unexpected activity, such as a Windows10 update downloading unexpectedly in the background.

However, welcome to the joys of hotspot ownership. While cellular companies might show TV spots that portray you and your friends sitting around your laptop laughing at YouTube videos delivered over their cellular service, the realities are that the cell carriers place significant limits on their data plans.

The most important lesson you need to learn is that, especially if there's any chance you're going to transfer a lot of data, and RDP/VNC/etc qualifies, your hotspot is the device of last resort. You want to see if there's some free wifi around, and if it performs well, then you should prefer that instead. You should probably be running RDP over a VPN of some sort back to the network with the RDP target, and if you do that, then using free public wifi is not really riskier than using cell service.

Windows will allow you to mark a connection as metered, which will cause it to avoid certain types of activities. I am not certain that OS X has similar capabilities, but it would be worth looking into.
posted by jgreco at 2:16 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

It may not just be Verizon using data throttling - there are still a lot of places that don't have good 4G coverage. This map shows where coverage is spotty - including Idaho. And even where that map says there's coverage, it's still not actually that great ... I get good data at work, but terrible data at my house and they are only a few miles away from each other.

Have fun on tour - maybe I'll see you in Albuquerque on Wednesday!
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 7:56 AM on June 19, 2017

Verizon definitely has a policy of "unlimited" meaning 10GB / month for a tethered laptop and then you are throttled to 3G speeds. You can see discussion on BGR and on a Verizon forum.

I don't have a solution for you. If it were me I'd look to buy a special device and/or data plan that's independent of a cell phone contract.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 AM on June 19, 2017

I tend to agree with BooneTheCowboyToy. There are a lot of places, especially in the west/Rockies that just don't have 4G, at least not reliably, and I assume Verizon fudges their coverage map to make themselves look better. Do you have someone else there with you that has Verizon and definitely gets 4G while standing in the same spot? Preferably on the same type of phone.
posted by AFABulous at 9:00 AM on June 19, 2017

As an aside you may want to see if your cell is connecting via wifi to the hotspot, because it'll think "hey, wifi, high def all the things, update all the shit" and burn through data quickly.
posted by zippy at 10:33 AM on June 19, 2017

Hey, popping in here to say that my device popped up a little message warning me that I was going to be throttled, and then another message saying "you've been throttled!" So yeah it's not just the lack of coverage.

going to call Verizon now, give me strength.
posted by capnsue at 1:17 PM on June 19, 2017

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