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Verizon Wireless Collars Video Bitrates for New Unlimited Plans

In a move that’s sure to spark a reaction from network neutrality advocates, Verizon Wireless this week introduced a new batch of unlimited data plans that will put a bit-rate collar on video streams.

Starting Wednesday (August 23), Verizon Wireless’s previous unlimited policy is pivoting to three different options: Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited and Business Unlimited.

For Go Unlimited, video is limited to “DVD-quality” -- SD on phones (480p) and HD on tablets (720p) – while the pricier Beyond Unlimited tier supports HD for phones and tablets (720p for phones and 1080p for tablets). The new Business Unlimited plan gives those customers flat monthly rates. Verizon is also introducing an unlimited option for customers on prepaid plans that limits video to DVD-quality streaming.

DSL Reports has posted a comparison chart of those options here.

Customers who signed up for Verizon’s previous unlimited plan will get 5 gigabytes of additional mobile hotspot data for no added charge, Verizon said. That unlimited plan, which allowed for HD video streaming, sold for $80 for one line, or $180 per month for four, along with 10 GB of mobile hotspot data.

“Moving forward, HD video on all legacy plans will also match Beyond Unlimited’s HD quality,” Verizon said. “We're doing this to ensure all customers have a great experience on our network since there is no significant difference in quality on a smartphone or tablet when video is shown at higher resolutions (than 720p on phones and 1080p on tablets).”

In July, reports that Verizon was “throttling” video streaming as part of a video-optimization test caught the ire of Public Knowledge over network neutrality concerns and complaints that the tests were being done without warning to customers.  Verizon responded that current net neutrality rules clear the way for providers to employ “reasonable network management practices” and that video optimization “is a non-discriminatory network management practice.”

RELATED: Verizon Calls Optimization Tests Reasonable Net Management

Predictably, Verizon’s new unlimited plans drew a cheeky response on Twitter from T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere:

@Verizon just limited EVERYTHING about its “unlimited” plan…your network needs help! Just admit it already!

— John Legere (@JohnLegere) August 22, 2017